San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Adds Second K-9 Arson Investigator to Team

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) — The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District launched its first arson canine program in more than two decades last year, and the team has been hard at work ever since.

“The variety of fires they respond to is enormous, whether it’s a simple trash fire that someone started behind one of our businesses or a wildfire or in the case of ‘a structure fire where someone may have deliberately set that structure on,’ Chief Dan Munsey said.

The dogs, known as detection dogs, are trained to detect minute traces of accelerators and flammable liquids, such as gasoline or lighter fluid.

On Thursday, the department introduced its newest member: a 2-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever named Ginnie.

According to SBFPDGinnie and her assistant, Assistant Fire Marshal Brian Headley, recently returned from a 4 week training.

Ginnie joins K-9 Dinty, a 5-year-old black Labrador.

The two animals are currently the only arson dogs in San Bernardino County and two of six teams in California.

“We have electronic instruments, but the dog is more accurate,” said fire department investigator Shawn Reiss. “His nose is 10 times more efficient. He has 200 to 300 million receptors when he sniffles. He’ll find it.”

Munsey said investigators responded to 670 fires last year and estimate they will work more than 800 this year.

The department received the State Farm Arson Dog Training Scholarship, which gave them $25,000 to fund the program.

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