State Fire Marshal: Arson Detecting Canines Valuable Tool In Fighting Arson

Monday, May 04, 2015 | 11:45am

NASHVILLE – Every year, the U.S. Fire Administration and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office dedicate the first full week of May to raising awareness about arson and its impact on our communities. This year, Arson Awareness Week is May 3-9 and focuses on the role that accelerant detection canines (ADC) play in sniffing out arson.

“Arson destroys more than buildings. It can devastate a community through the decline of the neighborhood with increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue and a decrease in property values,” said Tennessee Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is proud to have accelerant detection canines working to make Tennessee safer by bringing down arsonists.”

“An accelerant detection canine saves time and money,” said Bomb and Arson Section Director Glenn “Andy” Anderson. “Their sense of smell is 100,000 times more acute than a human being’s sense of smell. An ADC can cover an average fire scene in 30 minutes. It can take humans days to do what a dog does in minutes.”

Combating arson is a key priority for fire departments and law enforcement agencies across Tennessee. In 2013, the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System reported that arson was responsible for $7.7 million in damage, seven deaths and 18 injuries, including three firefighter injuries.

Residents can support the efforts of state and local officials by taking the following steps to help protect their homes against arson:

  •  Illuminate exterior and entrances. Install lights covering all sides of the home. Motion-activated lighting should be placed near the entrances. Interior lights on timers give the illusion that a residence is occupied.
  • Install smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system. Using operable smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of death from fire by more than 82 percent.
  • Keep doors and windows locked. All external doors should be equipped with deadbolts. A locked door could be the deterrent that saves a house from arson. The best windows have spring-loaded bolts that insert through the window frame into the wall frame.
  • Clean house. Remove excess vegetation and piles of leaves. Trim shrubbery that blocks the view of the house from the street. Clean around your house and garage, removing unused and unneeded paper, trash, cleaning supplies, partial cans of paint and other materials that could become kindling and fuel a fire.
  • Clean up vacant homes. Work with local authorities to secure abandoned and vacant homes, which are potential arson targets. This may include boarding up broken windows or other openings with plywood and removing abandoned vehicles. Encourage Neighborhood Watch members to patrol these areas and write down descriptions and the license plates of suspicious vehicles, as well as descriptions of suspicious strangers.

To learn more about 2015 Arson Awareness Week, visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website
To report a suspected arson, call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at (1-800-762-3017). The Arson Hot Line
is a phone line dedicated to receiving information about suspicious and incendiary fires. It is answered 24
hours a day and you may remain anonymous when providing information.