Council Bluffs, IA (May 24, 2017) - - The newest member of the Council Bluffs Fire & Rescue 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, Gibson. Gibson, a three-year-old male chocolate Labrador retriever, and his handler, Arson Investigator Dan Roberts recently completed the five week canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm Insurance® and certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
Roberts and Gibson will be introduced at a news conference at 3 p.m. on May 24 at the Council Bluffs Fire & Rescue, 200 S. 4th St. Roberts and his/her partner K-9 Gibson will complete a demonstration of their skills and be available for interview and photos.
The program is funded by State Farm® 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 380 dogs in 45 states, three Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia. Three of those dogs are currently working in Iowa.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 280,000 intentional fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, with associated annual losses of 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. The actual number of arson fires and amount of property damage is likely much higher as arson is an underreported crime. Arson dogs played a key role in helping to determine the cause of many of these fires.
“We want to help support the efforts of Council Bluffs to douse arson fires,” said State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Kelly Pargett. “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 Dan Roberts, Fire Investigator Council Bluffs Fire Department. “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 assist the investigator in quickly and accurately finding the location of an accelerant in a suspected arson fire.”
For more information about the Arson Dog Program visit the Web site at www.arsondog.org.