Every year, the Calgary Fire Department's (CFD) Fire Investigation unit investigates fires that are suspected to be intentionally set. Over the past three years, approximately 20% of Calgary fires were found to be intentionally caused, or due to arson. Accelerant detection canines are able to sniff out the presence of accelerants, or liquids or materials that may be used to set fires, and help Calgary’s fire investigators to quickly and accurately investigate the causes of fires.
The Calgary Fire Department, thanks to the State Farm’s Arson Canine Training Scholarship, now has two trained accelerant detection canines, Honey and Gibbs. The two black Labrador retrievers completed training and are certified to assist with CFD Fire Investigations.
Accelerant detection canines, or dogs like Honey and Gibbs, can be more accurate in detecting accelerants than electronic detection devices. Dogs have a superior ability to discriminate scents, and when properly trained, accelerant detection dogs can smell and detect miniscule traces, in comparison to electronic devices. Accelerant detection dogs typically require less samples and less time to investigate a fire scene than a human investigator with electronic equipment.
Labrador retrievers like Honey and Gibbs, were chosen for training because of their breed, which is known for good disposition and their hard-working attitude.
Honey & Gibbs
Honey is the first canine to join the Calgary Fire Department’s Accelerant Detection Canine Program. The English black Labrador retriever became the first canine member of the unit in May 2012 and has been to more than 110 fires with her handler and Fire Investigator Brad McDonald.
Gibbs, an American black Labrador retriever, joined CFD in December 2013 with his handler and Fire Investigator Tony Bund.
When Honey and Gibbs are not working, they live with their handlers, who take care of them and include them as part of their families.
State Farm Arson Dog Training Program
The Calgary Fire Department was fortunate to qualify for the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program, which offers scholarships to cover the expense of acquiring and training an accelerant detection canine. The scholarship pays for the five-week training program at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as well as the travel expenses for the dog and handler.
Since 1993, this program has placed more than 325 dogs in fire departments and law enforcement agencies throughout North America.
Encana Corporation is the primary local sponsor, with a five-year commitment to the Calgary Fire Department’s Accelerant Detection Canine Program. The company generously provides a natural gas-powered vehicle and the costs of the fuel, as well as pays for expenses related to the canines’ ongoing training and certification.
A leading North American energy producer, Encana contributes to the strength and sustainability of the communities where it operates by partnering with employees, community organizations and other businesses.
Animal & Bylaw Services - Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw
The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw enables Animal & Bylaw Services to work with Calgarians to ensure cats, dogs, their owners and neighbours live together in safety and harmony.
Thanks to Animal & Bylaw Services and in accordance with the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, Honey and Gibbs have been licensed and microchipped. As well, Honey has been spayed and Gibbs has been neutered.