Longmont, Colo., November 6, 2012 – The newest member of the Longmont Fire Department has a nose up on arsonists and is planning on using those skills to sniff out the causes of fires. The new investigator is accelerant detection K-9, Holly.
Holly, a Labrador Retriever, and her handler, Arson Investigator Mike Manzo recently completed the five week canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm Insurance® and certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
The program is funded by State Farm Insurance Companies® and is available to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the United States. Since its beginning in 1993, the program has placed more than 300 dogs in 44 states, three Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia.
In 2009, over 41,500 intentionally set fires were set in the United States causing over $792 million dollars in property damage and killing 170 civilians according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
“Through this program we’re able to support and help protect communities,” said State Farm Vice President-Operations Troy Turner. “The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of us all. Training dogs to detect accelerants at fire scenes saves time and money in arson investigations.”
A few years ago, investigators could spend days or weeks sifting through rubble at a scene. Today, with a trained dog, the work can be done in less than an hour.
“The dog extends the capabilities of the investigator,” said Public Safety Chief Mike Butler, Longmont Department of Public Safety. “The scent-discriminating abilities of a canine are better than any equipment we can take to a fire scene when arson is suspected. The canine will lead the investigator to the location of the accelerant, so the investigator can take a sample to the state’s crime labs in order to prove arson.”
Angela Thorpe, State Farm Public Affairs, (303) 264-1560.
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