ARSON DOG TRAINING PROGRAM MOVES TO STATE FIRE ACADEMY

CONCORD, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the State Division of Fire Standards and Training & Emergency Medical Services announced Monday the relocation of the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program from Maine to the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord.

“Through the support of State Farm, the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office has effectively used accelerant detection canines to combat the violent crime of arson throughout the state of New Hampshire for the past 25 years,” State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said.

Accelerant detection canines, informally known as arson dogs, are trained to detect minute traces of ignitable liquids that may have been used to start fires, Degnan said. The use of a canine team can also help determine a specific location where physical samples can be collected and then submitted to a forensic laboratory for analysis, he said.

The use of an accelerant detection canine team has the ability to save both time and money during a fire investigation, Degnan said. Accelerant detection canines can allow investigators to collect fewer but more accurate evidence samples and if the canine performs a negative sweep at a scene, the collection of samples may not be necessary, he said. In both instances, the use of an accelerant detection canine team saves investigators and laboratory analysis personnel valuable time and expense, he said.

Each arson dog works and lives with its handler, a sworn Fire Investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Currently, there are two Accelerant Detection Canine Teams in the State Fire Marshal’s Office, K9 Molly, a yellow Labrador retriever, and her handler, District Chief Stacey Dubois, and K9 Pal, a yellow Labrador retriever, and his handler, Investigator Sean Plumer. These teams are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Annually, these canine teams assist investigators on dozens of department cases and also assist other fire and police agencies throughout New Hampshire, Degnan said. They also perform public demonstrations for schools and professional organizations throughout New Hampshire, he said.

Both canine and handler are certified as a team through the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program located at the State Fire Academy in Concord. Previously, the certification and training was conducted by the Maine State Police.

The announcement was followed by an open house and facility tour for media and legislators and an arson dog demonstration conducted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.