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Wallace—the famous Glasgow Fire Dog

Wallace ‘adopted’ and was adopted by Glasgow Central Fire Station in 1894.  He became their mascot and preceded the fire engines to many fires in Glasgow until his death in 1902.  Special boots were made to save his paws being injured by debris. 

He was preserved and he and his boots can still be seen today.

Albert Payson Terhune wrote about Wallace and the story was released as a separate book in 1961 in the USA entitled ‘Wallace—Glasgow’s Immortal Fire Dog’

Here is a quote from ‘A Proud Record – The Story of the Glasgow Fire Service’ by Campbell Steven, published by The Glasgow Fire Service in 1975 and printed by Holmes McDougall Ltd., Glasgow.

‘In lighthearted contrast to such details of the never-ending, uphill battle for better safety precautions and greater fire-fighting effectiveness is the story of the dog Wallace. Wallace's first appearance is said to have been at a lifeboat procession in 1894, when he attached himself to one of the city fire-engines and went back with it to the station.

In due course his master, who worked in High Street, came and took him home, but he returned after a few hours and stayed at the Central Fire Station as a full-time, unpaid member of the brigade- his licence actually paid for by the Corporation—quite literally for the rest of his life. Thanks to his friendly and intelligent disposition, Wallace quickly became a firm favourite, not only with men of the fire service but also with the many members of the general public who had occasion to visit the fire station. He would lie quietly in the watchroom, then, at the first sound of the alarm bell, he would be up and away to the fire, running some twenty to thirty yards in front of the horses drawing the appliances. Many of the spectators who watched Wallace were at a loss to understand how he always seemed to know the way to an outbreak, and rumour had it that this was due to his quite remarkable instinct.  What happened in fact was that the driver of the leading appliance would indicate the direction to follow by nodding or signalling with his whip, and the dog, glancing back, was quick to see which way to turn.

 On one occasion an elderly lady who happened to be visiting the Central Fire Station noticed that Wallace had a sore paw and as a result she ordered a set of four small rubber boots for him. The boots were duly delivered, but Wallace was not fussy about them and preferred his naked paws. He continued to run to fires until his death in 1902, his body was embalmed and placed in a glass case in the recreation room at the Central Fire Station.  Also still on view there are a pair of Wallace’s rubber boots.’

Wallace can now be found in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust museum in Greenock.

The first book shown is the one which was published in the USA in the 1960s, and is by Albert Paysun Terhune.  He wrote a book of stories about amazing animals and then this children’s book was produced separately about Wallace.  You will notice that Wallace is presumed to be a ‘Lassie’ type collie.


More recently, in the 1990s, books for children about Wallace have been produced in the UK.  They were written by James Drummond and most of them were illustrated by Louise Annand. They were published by Amaising Publishing.


I have shown the paperback versions here.


Again, these are still available at times through various book and auction websites.

Text Box: Wallace
the Fire Dog

Scottish Fire Heritage Group

Fire Dogs are used by the Fire and Rescue Services in the USA and UK today, but for a different purpose.  They are employed after the fire to help in forensic work.

The plaque reads:- “WALLACE” the famous mascot of Glasgow fire service adopted by central fire station as a stray in 1894, he died in 1902 after attending many fires.  He preceded the fire engines & sometimes wore the little boots also on view.

Lifeboat Parade advert from ‘The Bailie’ of 13th June 1894, the year Wallace ‘joined’ the Fire Brigade!


As you can see, this would have been a big event, starting at Blythswood Square, with bands, people dressed as historical and  fictional characters etc.. They marched through the city, ending up at Glasgow Green.

(Lascars are Indian sailors)

Wallace, the Fire Dog

Text Box: Garden Festival 1988
Text Box: Glasgow in the 1980s

Wallace the Fire Dog

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Neglected City

Humane Society

The Clyde

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Text Box: John Smith Bookshop
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Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Two of these books have been re-published in a slightly larger format on 5th November 2014 by Glowworm Books & Gifts Ltd.

The proceeds of the sale of these books will be going to The Scottish Fire and Rescue Heritage Trust

Museum and Heritage centre

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust

What follows is a link to the Scottish Fire Heritage Group, run by a group of friends who are passionate about preserving Scotland’s fire-fighting past.  They are not affiliated to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

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