Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton is in the process of bringing an accelerant dog back to Kosciusko County.
Former Warsaw Fire Department Fire Marshal Michael Wilson had the first and so far the only ATF trained and certified accelerant dog when he was with WFD. Bailey, a black Labrador, worked with WIlson from 2003 until early 2011 when the city chose to discontinue use of the canine.
With fewer than 60 of these specially trained dogs in the United States today, Hampton is eager to get a canine back into the county and with trained handler, Wilson.
The prosecutor says, a dog “… helps with investigations that we may have and, since Wilson already has the training and the certification, it’s a good fit to bring an accelerant dog back to the county.”
And Wilson, who has won the Republican nomination for Kosciusko County Coroner, is more than anxious to again become a handler. “I’ve working on getting the application in and trying to get in a September class. I’m anxious to work with a dog again; I miss it,” he tells StaceyPageOnline.com.
Trained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, accelerant canines are valuable investigative tools in arson detection and can detect any accelerants, the ignitable liquids present in intentional fires.
Dogs have about 220 million receptors in their noses to detect scent – that’s more than four times the ability of humans. And according to the ATF, trained dogs are capable of sensing just three drops of fuel that may exist as much as four feet under fire debris.
On average, Wilson said Bailey worked about 60 fire scenes per year in Kosciusko County and around Indiana. The dog was even summoned by the ATF on a major fire in Indianapolis in 2009.
According to the ATF, dogs used in accelerant detection are trained after a five-week course for handlers at the agency’s training center in Front Royal, Va. A 10-week course also is offered for dogs to train in explosives detection.
The ATF program says there are about 50 teams like Wilson and Bailey’s around the country. In addition to large fire scenes, teams have been used at the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 attacks, at the Olympic Games, and for other special events including presidential inaugurations and political conventions.
Hampton says ATF dogs must be funded through a law enforcement agency but the coroner’s office is not a qualified agency. Hampton has agreed to have his office fund the dog, which will already be a far less cost than if the program was brand new to the county. Wilson is already certified and has undergone all of the necessary training.
The cost is also largely dependent on the community. “With all of our canines the community has been good with funding, donations and even donating the food and veterinarian (expenses),” Hampton explains.
An application has already been submitted to the ATF for Kosciusko County, but Hampton says the September training class is full so, “Basically, we were told to submit the application and get in line.”
At this point, there is no timetable for when a dog will be assigned back to the county and with Wilson.