Office Of State Fire Marshal Adds Newest Accelerant And Explosive Detection Canine Teams

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Credit: Office of the State Fire Marshal

BALTIMORE COUNTY - The Office of the State Fire Marshal added an untraditional employee to its ranks on Friday. Every Deputy State Fire Marshal is required to raise their right hand to be sworn in. Instead, K9 Deacon just wanted belly rubs.

Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Jeff Thomas's new partner, Deacon, is a 13-month-old female, purebred yellow Labrador retriever. She was raised by Paws for a Cause and later transitioned to Von Der King Kennels and Training before being acquired by the ATF for the accelerant detection canine program. The duo will join nearly 60 other K9 teams across the country.

"I am very proud that the ATF has allowed the Office of the State Fire Marshal to be partners in their Accelerant Detection Canine program for nearly 25 years," State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said. "We are dedicated to assisting ATF whenever they call, and this long-standing partnership is proof. I have an even greater sense of pride for Senior Deputy Thomas and all of our handlers and their families who dedicate themselves to working and training with their canine partners seven days a week."

Senior Deputy Thomas and Deacon graduated from the ATF National Canine Training Center in Front Royal, Virginia, along with six other handlers from across the country. This certification program is an intensive 12-week school focused on accelerant detection canine methodology, fire chemistry, safety and first aid, health, and wellness, as well as several investigative disciplines. The practical skills and team exercises were conducted in and around vehicles, structures, humans, equipment, and fire scenes to hone Deacon's scent discrimination skills.

Deacon is now proficient in detecting specific classifications of ignitable liquids and has performed over 5,000 repetitions for odor recognition and detection during training.

K9 Deacon will join the accelerant and explosive detection canine teams assigned to the Special Operations Section and respond to incidents across Maryland.

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