SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Salt Lake City Fire Department held a badge ceremony on Friday to officially welcome its new arson K9 named George.

George, along with Investigator McGinnis, completed their training with the State Farm Arson K9 Program recently. Accelerant detection dogs like George assist in determining the causes of fires. They are trained to sniff out traces of accelerants potentially used to start a fire, according to State Farm.

“Many of the dogs were raised to be a guide dog or offer disability assistance, but didn’t complete their training because the dog was too energetic,” State Farm’s website wrote. “These dogs are given a second chance to serve by training as an accelerant detection canine.”

State Farm says the dogs chosen for the program are usually Labrador Retrievers or Lab mixes because:

  • Labrador Retrievers have a superior ability to discriminate scents at a fire scene.
  • The nose of a lab can smell in parts per quintillion.
  • Labs generally have a good disposition and an outgoing personality.
  • Labs are very active and have a “love to work” type attitude.

The K9s and their handlers are required to complete a four-week training course capped at a total of 200 hours before graduating as a certified accelerant detection canine team. State Farm says the dogs are trained and reinforced using a food-reward method.

On Friday, May 12, George received his badge and was sworn in as Salt Lake City Fire Department’s newest member. George is the third K9 the department has received through the State Farm Arson K9 Program.

“Investigator McGinnis and K9 George will make a terrific team for many years to come,” said Salt Lake City Fire Department officials.