LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — North Las Vegas Fire Department’s newest crime fighter has four legs and a keen sense of smell giving her a nose-up on arsonists. K-9 Jersey, a-two year old female yellow Labrador retriever originally raised to be disability assistance canine, is the department’s first accelerant detection specialist. Jersey and Fire Investigator/K-9 handler Captain Darcy Loewen recently graduated from the State Farm® Arson Dog Training Program in New Hampshire and bring a valuable set of skills to the Nevada fire service.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome K-9 Darcy to our department,” said Joseph Calhoun, North Las Vegas Fire Chief. “The North Las Vegas Fire Department is a full-service fire agency, and this fantastic partnership with State Farm provides our residents with yet another very important capability that is unique here in Southern Nevada to our department.”
Since its beginning in 1993, the State Farm Arson Dog Program has placed more than 425 dogs in 46 states, three Canadian provinces, and the District of Columbia. All accelerant detection canine teams are trained by Maine Specialty Dogs and certified by the Maine State Police. The program is available to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the United States.
“This means a great deal to State Farm, fire departments, and local communities," said Kenneth Whitehair, State Farm Vice President—Agency. “The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of a community. These K-9s enable investigators to do their job more efficiently and effectively.”
Fire Investigator Loewen will be participating in investigations immediately. The team will be conducting public demonstrations showcasing K-9 Jersey’s accelerant detection sniffing abilities at schools and throughout the community at various safety events.
K-9 Jersey is one of two arson dogs in service in the state, trained through the State Farm program this year. Reno introduced K-9 Boston and Captain Sean O’Brien recently to Nevada.
“Jersey is ready to serve our residents,” said Loewen. “She has proven she’s up to the task, and I’m excited to be working with my new partner.”
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 helping to determine the cause of many of these fires.
For more information about the Arson Dog Program visit the website at www.arsondog.org.