The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office has the distinct pleasure of having a unique weapon in detecting the use of ignitable fluids at fire scenes in the form of Labrador Retrievers.
Since 1990, Maine Specialty Dog/Maine State Police trained the canines used by the New Hampshire by the State Fire Marshal's Office. The certification process is for both the handler and canine as a team, and is conducted by the Maine State Police and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The initial phase of training for this program is five weeks of training and testing for the both canine and the handler. After successful completion, the handler maintains the canine seven days a week, year round. The team is required to re-certify annually over the course of three days.
The Labrador retriever is used for this particular program due to its size, love for work, and drive to eat. The program used for these canines is a food-reward system based on both food and praise. When not working at a fire scene, their handlers maintain them daily. This daily routine can be anything from working or practicing at a fire scene to performing a demonstration for public groups or working on scent discrimination. When not working, the canines enjoy the company and home life of the family with whom they live.
The canine program was initially funded solely through donations. As the program has grown and proven itself, the maintenance of the canines is funded through the division's operating budget. The initial certification of the canine and its handler is still funded by State Farm Insurance Company.
The handlers are provided with specially equipped vehicles for transporting and housing their canines. These vehicles are equipped with a custom made cage with built in water dish; the cage replaces the rear seat. In addition, each vehicle is equipped with a temperature monitoring device and an automatic fan with window roll down system.
History of the Program
Click on the link for each canine or handler to learn more about them.