Diesel The Search and Rescue Dog Gets His Boots On

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) recruit is vital to protecting communities

SFRS search and rescue dog Diesel stands ready for duty – kitted out in special booties and harness.The springer spaniel relies on the protective footwear so that he can search collapsed buildings for casualties.And two torches attached to his body ensure that he can properly see in the dark while a small bell alerts handler Gary Carroll to his location.

This clever dog is a vital member of the SFRS Urban Search and Rescue’s National Response as he can detect trapped survivors in a fraction of the time it would take a human – thanks to his powerful nose and agility.

Experienced Gary is the SFRS K9 handler and a Crew Manager based at Portlethen, Aberdeenshire.

He said: “Diesel is a great asset in urban search and rescue due to the speed at which he operates – as it can take humans quite some time to locate injured casualties in a collapsed building.

“But Diesel can race over the top of the rubble and use his nose to achieve the same result in just a fraction of the time. Equally, he will let us know if there are no casualties, meaning we can quickly focus our search on other areas.

“Diesel is also far less likely to disturb anything or encounter any trip hazards whilst searching any structure that might collapse at any moment.

“He is therefore decreasing the time taken to effect rescues but – equally as important – he is increasing the safety of his firefighter colleagues by reducing the time they are required to operate within the risk area.

“It is therefore crucial that he is properly kitted out. His specialist boots protect his feet from broken glass or shattered brick whilst the torches assist him in very dark conditions underground, and the bell allows us to locate him.”



Diesel and firefighter Gary were part of a specialist UK International Search and Rescue team who went to assist the people of Nepal during a devastating earthquake in 2015. They formed part of the British Government’s 60-strong UKISAR (UK International Search and Rescue) team.

The highly-skilled pair are now available to assist SFRS colleagues and other blue light services at emergencies across Scotland – including searches for missing persons as Diesel can also cover wide, open spaces to locate people at speed.

And the duo showed off their professionalism at a UK-wide ISAR training event at the SFRS National Training Centre and Headquarters in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire on Saturday, 9 April.

The event included Fire and Rescue dogs and their handlers from Fire and Rescue Services throughout Britain.

Together, the team searched collapsed building and vehicle wreckage simulations. Diesel also worked at height during a simulated rope rescue.


Diesel and Gary working at height during training exercise at Cambuslang

Gary, added: “Diesel has already been deployed around the world, most recently to Nepal following a major earthquake.

“But he can also be used to search wide, open spaces or through vehicle wreckage so he has a very wide range of skills that can be used to help protect the communities of Scotland. He has also been called upon to assist Police in locating a missing person.

“Diesel treats finding casualties as a game with his handler and, as such, all he asks for in return is to be rewarded with his favourite tennis ball.”


Diesel with Gary and senior officer Jim Quinn at Cambuslang

Senior officer Jim Quinn is leading the ground-breaking SFRS USAR project.

The Cambuslang-based Station Manager said: “I have seen Diesel at work many times and he is a welcome addition to SFRS’s national USAR response.

“We are a single service providing an unrestricted response to emergencies occurring anywhere in Scotland – and beyond – if requested to assist. Diesel is integral to that response.”

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