An accelerant detection canine (arson dog) is a dog that has been trained to sniff out minute traces of accelerants that may have been used to start a fire. These dogs go through extensive training before becoming certified accelerants detection canines. Each dog is part of a team that is comprised of the canine and its handler. The handler is a law enforcement officer that has been trained to investigate fire scenes. Not only are these teams trained to investigate the causes of fires but they are responsible for providing community outreach programs and educational seminars on fire prevention and safety.
Why is there a need for these accelerant detection canines? Each year billions of dollars worth of property damage and hundreds of lives are lost due to the crime of arson. This crime has an impact on all communities and the State Farm Arson Dog Program is a resource that can help fight this crime.
The Arson Dog Program was established in 1993 through the sponsorship of State Farm. Over 350 arson dog teams have been placed in 44 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. The K-9s and handlers are required to complete a 200 hour (four to five weeks) training program in Maine and are then certified through the Maine State Police in according with Maine Criminal Justice Academy standards upon graduation.
All the K-9s are Labrador Retrievers and are trained using a food-reward method. All K-9s and their handlers must be re-certified every year. The program uses Labrador Retrievers for numerous reasons. Labs have a superior ability to discriminate among scents at a fire scene. Their noses can smell in parts per quintillion. Labs generally have a gentle disposition, a “love to work” attitude, and an outgoing personality. All of these characteristics make Labs the perfect choice to become an arson dog.
The K-9s and handlers are together 24/7. Not only is the K-9 the handlers partner but they are part of the handler’s family!
Follow an Arson Dog team as they investigate a fatal arson in Kansas at Fire Dogs: Man’s Best Friend is an Arsonist’s Worst Nightmare