The Division of Arson Investigation currently has seven certified Canine teams.
The canines have been specifically trained to detect accelerants, which are flammable liquids such as gasoline and kerosene that arsonists use to start fires. The benefit of using an accelerant detecting canine is the dog's ability to quickly pinpoint accelerant residue, which can save the arson investigators time at the fire scene.
The canine teams also provide arson awareness and education by providing canine demonstrations at various organizations including schools, civic groups, and the Illinois State Fair. They are also very popular during Fire Prevention Week.
If your school or organization would like to observe a canine demonstration, you may call the Division of Arson Investigation office at (217) 782-9116; send a fax to (217) 785-4715.
Fire department and law enforcement officials that need a canine team to assist them with a fire scene can call the Arson Hotline, (800) 252-2947, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Arson K-9 Training and Certification
Dogs and handlers are trained during an intensive five-week session at the New Hampshire Fire Training Academy, in Concord, NH. Paul Gallagher, retired trooper of the Maine State Police Canine Unit and Trainer-Maine Specialty Dogs, provides the instruction and training. The dogs are trained to maneuver around physical obstacles and discriminating scents of various accelerants commonly used to set fires.
At the end of the five-week course, a chemist certifies that each dog is capable of discriminating scents of a variety of substances used to set fires. This certification is crucial because the evidence uncovered by the dog and handler can become a key point in subsequent criminal and civil trials.
After the initial five-week training, the dog and handler become a team. The dog lives at the handler's residence.
After initial certification, each dog must recertify annually.
Becoming a K-9 handler is a serious commitment. Each individual must assure that they will house and care for their partner, as well as continue the dog's daily training.
For more information, visit the State Farm Website: www.ArsonDog.org