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May 04, 2015

ARSON AWARENESS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY CANINE OFFICERS

AUSTIN – The State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is joining the United States Fire Administration and countless local fire departments in observing Arson Awareness Week, May 3-9, 2015. This year’s theme focuses on the important contributions of Accelerant Detection Canines (ADC).

The SFMO has five canines on active duty across Texas, sniffing out arson. Last year, canines and their handlers worked 381 fire scenes. Two hundred and sixty-four samples were taken from the scenes, and 155 samples tested positive for accelerants and helped yield 23 criminal indictments.

Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy says ADCs are a valuable asset to law enforcement and the state in general. “Accelerant detection canines save countless staff hours and resources by quickly pinpointing minute traces of accelerants that may have been used to start a fire,” said Connealy. “Canines are just as useful in ruling out arson, allowing a case to close or the insurance claims process to move forward as quickly as possible.”

Dogs have a sense of smell that is 100,000 times stronger than a human’s. The SFMO uses ADC’s to assist investigators in determining locations where investigators can take samples.  These samples are then sent to the SFMO Arson Laboratory to test for the presence of an ignitable liquid.  A canine handler and dog work together as a team.

The dogs are trained to be passive alert, meaning once the dog detects an odor and follows it to source, the dog will sit down and not move from the source of the odor until rewarded and told to do so. The handler will mark the site and continue the search.  For their work, the dogs are rewarded with a toy or ball. The SFMO canines average over 350 investigations a year, but that’s only part of the job. When they’re not working a fire scene the dogs serve as ambassadors for the state fire marshal’s anti-arson and fire safety messaging, visiting schools and other groups around the state. For more information contact Rachel Moreno at (512) 676-6595 or visit the SFMO http://www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/fmk9.html.



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Last updated: 05/04/2015

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