PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new investigator will be joining the ranks of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, but it’s not your typical firefighter.
He or she will have four legs and a keen sense of smell that’s 40 times greater than any human’s.
It’s history in the making for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire.
“We have them for drugs, we have them for bombs,” Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief Darryl Jones said.
Jones is happy to announce an “arson dog” will join the department in 2018.
“They’re actually certified through the courts as expert witnesses,” Jones said. “So if a dog alerts on a certain area that’s determined to be an accelerant, the fact that the dog did alert can be used as evidence in court.”
The formal name is “accelerant detection dog.” They are usually labrador retrievers, and their noses can smell in parts per quintillion.
They are highly trained to distinguish between scents at a fire scene and detect accelerants on property and people.
“The strange thing about arsonists, many of them, is they like to see their work,” Jones said. “So they will start a fire and then, at some point, return or be in the crowd watching the firefighters try to extinguish the fire.”
The department hasn’t picked out the dog just yet, but a scholarship from the State Farm arson dog program and main specialty dogs are helping make the new addition possible.
“Hopefully by this time next year, we will have him or her on duty,” Jones said. “We’ll be able to bring him or her out and introduce them to the public and go from there.”