W.Va. fire department adds accelerant-detecting K-9

State Farm offers a K-9 through a grant program that allows fire departments to prevent and detect fire sources


By Blake Stowers
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — “Let’s go to work” is the command used by Bluefield Fire Department Lt. Shannon Akers to start the process of looking for signs of arson with his new partner Kendall.

Kendall, 3, is a accelerant detection dog purchased through a grant provided by State Farm. “An accelerant is things like gasoline, finger nail polish, paint thinner, anything that is used to start a fire,” Akers said. “Installing this dog for the citizens has cost the citizens zero (dollars). She cost around $12,000 to $15,000. That’s her estimated value.”

Akers is the K-9 handler for Kendall. “Kendall’s been here since last Friday,” Akers said. “Thursday is her first full shift. She is a golden retriever and Labrador mix. Kendall is an accelerant detection dog. Basically after a fire goes out, at that point, firefighters are deemed with the responsibility of determining what caused the fire. Kendall is a tool we will utilize in the area and the surrounding areas to figure out what possibly started the fire. She’s a tool in our toolbox that we can utilize to deploy to see and find the origin of fire.”

Akers gave the media a demonstration of how Kendall searches and finds the origin of fire on Thursday afternoon. Akers would put three drops of 50 percent gasoline in a specific area of a room and then bring Kendall in to search for the gasoline. “The only thing she alerts on is hydrocarbons such as diesel fuel or gasoline,” Akers said. “The demonstration today basically consisted of a room sniff. She goes in the room and I will put her to work and she’s looking and searching for any kind of hydrocarbon,” Akers said.

Bluefield State Farm Agent Brandon Disney attended the demonstration. “I’m really happy that State Farms able to offer this service to Bluefield,” Disney said.

Copyright 2016 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

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