London Fire Brigade

Brigade's fire investigation dog Roscoe wins Animal of the Year award

18 October 2016

One of the Brigade’s fire investigation dogs has been named as animal of the year by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Springer spaniel Roscoe was recognised for his work sniffing out the causes of fires across London at an awards ceremony at the House of Lords today (Tuesday, October 18).

The 12-year-old dog began working with the Brigade 11 years ago, has not missed a single shift and has assisted at the scene of more than 600 fires across the capital.

Using his sense of smell, Roscoe is able to help fire investigators to pinpoint the cause of fires, sniffing out ignitable substances such as petrol and lighter fluid. While at fire scenes, Roscoe wears personal protective equipment (PPE) to stay safe, including specially made boots to protect his paws from sharp objects.

Roscoe with his handler, watch manager Mick Boyle

Roscoe was expected to be ready for retirement two years ago, but continues to be enthusiastic about his work, which is based around play and reward.

Watch manager Mick Boyle, Roscoe's handler, said he is planning a gradual shift towards retirement for Roscoe later this year.

He said: "Roscoe always surprises me and it gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to see him enjoying the work while finding the cause of suspicious fires and helping to keep people safe.

"When members of the public see him arrive at the scene of a fire and ask why he's there I say he's going to tell me who started the fire.

"At the age of one year Roscoe came to me to start training after being given up for rehoming by his previous owners. Immediately he hit the ground running."

(Clockwise from top left) Charlie Pugsley, Head of Fire Investigation at LFB, Deputy Assistant Commisioner Andy Hearn, IFAW UK Director Philip Mansbridge, Baroness Gale, Mick Boyle with Roscoe and Bill Oddie

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: "Roscoe is an amazing dog whose long service sniffing out the cause of fires has helped keep Londoners safe.

"His fantastic partnership with handler Mick shows the special relationship between people and animals. Roscoe is a very deserving winner of IFAW's Animal of the Year Award."

Roscoe is one of three specially trained and highly skilled fire investigation dogs who work for the Brigade.