Arson detector dogs

Something New Every Day – Lecture 17 – Fire and Explosion Forensics

Just like there are bomb detection dogs and drug detection dogs, there are also arson detection dogs. Trained canine noses can sniff out tiny quantities of known accelerant hydrocarbons even after extensive burning. They are much quicker to use in the field than in-lab chemical tests.

Even though a regular fire itself can produce hydrocarbons that the dogs will detect, it doesn’t matter because forensic methodology allows for ‘false positives’ in the field that can be ruled out later in the crime lab. So it’s better to have a dog tell you there might be accelerant to be found (and end up being wrong) than have no dog and no idea to look for it.

‘Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works” is a The Great Courses DVD lecture series