Darlington County Fire District has a new member to fight arson
Darlington County Fire District Chief Ricky Flowers and his new partner “Cato” will be introduced as the newest members of the Arson Investigation team Friday. Cato, a one year old female yellow Labrador retriever, and Chief Flowers, completed the four week canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm® and certified by the Maine State Police/Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
Cato is a certified accelerant detection canine who has been trained to locate the presence of ignitable liquids that may have been used to start arson fires. Cato will showcase her abilities by doing a demonstration Friday.
“We want to support the efforts of the Darlington County Fire District to douse arson fires and put criminals behind bars,” said State Farm Spokesman Roszell Gadson. “The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of us all.” Training dogs to locate 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.
State Farm® has been a sponsor of the Arson Dog Program since 1993. Cato is one of the more than 380 arson dog teams in the United States and Canada sponsored by State Farm and trained by Maine Specialty Dogs. Teams consisting of a dog and human handler assist local and state law enforcement officers with fire investigations.
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 locating evidence of arson in many of these fires.