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Arson Awareness Week: Accelerant Detection Canines – Sniffing Out Arson

Published: 5/6/2015

For More Information Contact:

Sgt. Shawn A. Castano
(845) 486-3875

The United States Fire Administration has designated May 3-9, 2015 as “Arson Awareness Week”. Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson would like to take the opportunity this week to raise awareness of the serious dangers that intentionally-set fires pose to our communities including those affected by these criminal acts and our first responders (police, fire and EMS personnel). This year’s theme for Arson Awareness Week is “Accelerant Detection Canines – Sniffing Out Arson.”

An accelerant detection canine team is comprised of a handler and a canine. The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office accelerant detection canine team of Deputy Sheriff John O’Brien and K-9 Libby provide investigative service to all of the police agencies and fire departments in Dutchess County. As an accelerant detection canine, Libby is trained to sniff out minute traces of ignitable liquid accelerants that may have been used to start or spread a fire. Deputy O’Brien and K9 Libby are assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Fire & Arson Investigation Unit, as well as the Dutchess County Fire Investigation Division.


• What is arson?

- Arson is the act of intentionally setting fire to buildings and property. It puts first responders and citizens in serious danger, and robs New Yorkers of their lives, homes, property and tens of millions of dollars each year.

• Why do we mark Arson Awareness Week?

- Each year, various law enforcement and fire departments raise awareness of arson or youth firesetting and provides New Yorkers with strategies to combat these problems in their community.

- This year’s theme, “Accelerant Detection Canines – Sniffing Out Arson,” recognizes the important contributions of dogs that help fire investigators determine the origin of suspicious fires.

• How does arson affect New Yorkers?

- More than 2,100 arsons were reported statewide in 2013. (New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services)

- More than 12 percent of fatal residential building fires across the country in 2012 were caused intentionally. (U.S. Fire Administration)

- At least five percent of residential building fires nationwide were started on purpose in 2012. (U.S. Fire Administration)

- In 2013, 138 New Yorkers died in fire-related deaths (of all causes). (New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control)

- More than 2,200 fire service professionals were injured in fires (of all causes) in 2013. (New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control)

- In 2013, property losses from residential fires statewide (outside of New York City) were in excess of $62.5 million. (New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control)

- Across the country, from 2007-2011, an estimated 282,600 intentional fires were reported to fire departments nationwide each year, with associated annual losses of 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. (National Fire Protection Association)

• What can the public do to make a difference?

- Keeping communities safe depends on each of us. Residents should be vigilant in stopping arson in their own neighborhoods by:

 • Reporting suspicious or criminal activity - Call 911 immediately
 • Practicing fire safety and prevention

Have information regarding an ARSON?

  - Call the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 845-605-CLUE (2583)

  - Email: