Sacramento Fire Department Gets Help from Accelerant Detection Dog

SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento fire investigators can use all the help they can get during an arson investigation and now they are getting help from a four-legged friend.

Flash is a 2-year-old pointer pit bull mix. She was once a rescue dog from Walnut Creek but now she’s one of only two accelerant detection dogs in Northern California.

"This is the first of its kind when it comes to odor detection related to accelerants," said Sacramento Fire Department K-9 handler Sharon McIntyre.

Flash can detect 16 different kinds of accelerants.

"Diesel fuel, lighter fluid, anything you would typically use to start a fire she's gonna be able to pick up on," McIntyre said.

For Flash, she’s emotionless during all of it. There's no judgment or bias. It isn’t really a job for her -- it's actually a game.

She knows if she can detect those accelerants she gets paid, and how she's getting paid is with a tennis ball.

McIntyre says it's important for Flash to keep her nose up to par. On Tuesday morning, she put the eager dog to the test with a box of accelerants.

Once Flash was out of her cage, it was right to work. Within a minute, she found the kerosene at the edge of a big, empty parking lot, diesel fuel under a traffic cone and lamp oil by a light pole.

While it was just a test, it showed just how quickly the canine can sift through the rubble to make things easier for investigators.

Even though she has an important job, she's still young and pretty rambunctious, which is perfect for this line of work.

"Full of energy and a little bit crazy sometimes but all of that is definitely advantageous for us when it comes to her staying on task and doing what she has to do," McIntyre said.

McIntyre says right now Flash is the only dog being used by the department. Ideally, the department would add two addition accelerant detection dogs to cover the city.