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We have all seen pictures of trained dogs aiding police and customs officers in their pursuit of drug smugglers and searches for lost children. The same training and heightened senses that have enabled the dog to assist in these roles now enables them to help in fire and arson investigations by detecting the presence of accelerants and flammable liquids at fire sites.

In the past few years, the final hurdles of appropriate training and certification testing have been overcome and "arson dogs", as they are commonly called, are currently available through Walters Consulting Corporation to assist in fire site investigations. These animals are used to detect the presence of various flammable liquids (usually hydrocarbon based) in the debris of a fire. The dog can greatly assist the investigating engineer by pinpointing areas of greater interest and offering the best probable locations for debris sample collections for later laboratory analysis. This will help reduce the costs of "negative" lab tests by increasing the possibility of "hits" based on better sampling.

To be a good arson dog, the animal must first of all be intelligent and obedient and capable of balancing sensitivity to odours with the ability to discriminate a single scent from the background smells. A dog can sense odours down to one part out of 100 million (!) which is far better than the human nose and even better than some hydrocarbon sniffer machines and sophisticated laboratory equipment. To gain certification, the dog must pass tests where it detects accelerants at a level of 10 parts per million with 90 percent accuracy.

The use of an arson dog will aid the engineer in conducting more time and cost effective investigations in completely burned/collapsed structures and those covering large areas. The arson dog is only a tool and will never completely replace the need for proper debris sampling and laboratory testing (even though in the U.S., the "word" of an arson dog has been ruled to be more relevant than a negative lab test). A dog on site means that nothing will be hidden from detection and the mere psychological effect can cause an edgy arsonist or fraud artist to think twice about proceeding with their claims.

Through an independent training company, Walters Consulting Corporation can now provide the services of accelerant detecting dogs to aid in your timely and cost effective fire investigation needs. Please contact us if you are interested in receiving more information on this or any other topic regarding fire investigation.

The information contained in this web site is intended for marketing purposes only. It is not all-inclusive, and does not fully describe the many and varied services that the company provides, nor does it completely describe the education, training, skills, or expertise of our staff.


Walters Forensic Engineering | 277 Wellington Street West, Suite 800 | Toronto, ON M5V 3H2
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