Dothan Fire Department Seeks Arson Dog Approval

The Dothan Fire Department has requested the City Commission approve the purchase of a dog, but not just any dog.

This dog would take the Fire Department's Arson Task Force to a new level.

About a year ago the city's "Arson Task Force" was formed.

It's a joint mission between the Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division and the Fire Prevention Bureau.

"We work together to solve undetermined fires or arson fires."

Over the past year the task force has been used nine times.

Four of those cases are still open and five resulted in arrests and only one had a guilty verdict.

"Arson is pretty hard to prosecute often times, because a lot of your evidence burns up in the crime itself," said Battalion Chief Chris Etheridge.

Etheridge says an arson detection canine would be a good addition to their task force.

"Kind of just another wrench in our tool box, which one reduces employee hours on the scene, by getting to the point of origin should there be an accelerant. Two it reduces our cost in sending samples off the lab. Rather than sending five samples from a big room, we can use the canine to kind of pinpoint a location and send more probable samples to the lab."

Similar to how narcotics canines are trained to sniff small amounts of drugs, this dog could sniff out small or trace amounts of accelerants.

"Such as a gasoline used to start a fire in an arson or other accelerants that are commonly used."

"We look for it to be an overwhelming improvement to how we work suspicious fires."

The district attorney has helped with the funding, the dog will cost $4,500.

"There are not a lot of arson detection dogs in our state so it's a tremendous resource it shows that our city really is leading the way in these types of initiatives."

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus