Spaniel rescued from puppy farm to assist fire service

Two-year-old Phoenix can detect scents that identify the location and cause of deliberate fires.

Spaniel rescued from puppy farm to assist fire service Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Phoenix: Spaniel with a talent for investigating fires.

A dog rescued from a puppy farm has joined a team of specialist investigators at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service after a year of training.

Phoenix, a two-year-old spaniel, has been trained over the course of the last year to detect scents that can identify the location and cause of deliberate fires. 

The talented canine is able to sniff out tiny traces of ignitable liquids up to one metre below debris left by a fire.

Pheonix will also provide comfort to victims of traumatic fires, and take part in community engagement work to educate young people about the risks of fire.

He was put through his paces by dog handler and fire investigation officer Jonathan Honeyman, based in Glasgow.

He said: “Phoenix has come on leaps and bounds since we first started working together. 

“It was quite clear very early on that he had tremendous capabilities for helping with our investigations – he can detect the slightest trace of ignitable liquids up to one metre below debris left by a fire.

“Phoenix can be brought on-site hours, days or weeks after an incident to search a wide radius to trace any evidence, which is a huge advantage to us. 

“He is without doubt a valued member of our investigation team.”

Firefighters were called to more than 1700 deliberate “secondary fires” in Scotland last summer – the term generally used to describe small outdoor fires, such as bin fires, grassland blazes are fires set in derelict buildings.

But the fire service warns these fires can still cause injury and death, spread to nearby properties, affect local businesses and threaten wildlife.

Mr Honeyman added: “If he could speak, I am sure Phoenix would encourage young people to act responsibly this summer and avoid putting themselves and communities at risk.”

Phoenix was rescued from an illegal puppy farm in Aberdeenshire in 2017 by the Scottish SPCA after a lengthy investigation which resulted in criminal conviction. 

Manager of the Scottish SPCA’s rescue and rehoming centre in Glasgow, Anna O’Donnell, said: “Our team did a fantastic job with Phoenix, who was in our care for 321 days.

“Phoenix, being a spaniel, is energetic, very clever and obedient so we thought he was the perfect fit for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“We are pleased to hear that he is now trained and working to keep communities safe by educating young people on fire safety.”

David Dourley, head of fire investigation, said: “I’m delighted to introduce Phoenix to our communities and I’m sure this valuable and capable resource will assist our FI teams across the country. 

“Phoenix not only enhances our fire investigation capabilities at complex fire scenes, but he will support our partners and contribute hugely to community engagement work, also providing comfort and wellbeing support to the victims of traumatic fire.”