After three years of working to secure funding through the New York Department of Homeland Security to train and handle an Arson Detection Dog, Central Coventry Fire Lt. Adam Dauplaise was recently able to bring his new pet and partner home.
Jack, the 1-1/2 year-old Black Lab, came to Dauplaise about eight weeks ago from the Lollipop Farms Shelter in New York, and has since become his pet, companion and partner. Jack is five weeks into his eight-week training in detecting ignitable fluids and accelerants — a skill that will be helpful to fire and law enforcement officials when determining if a fire was caused by arson.
When Jack came to live with Dauplaise, he had no prior training of any kind, but has made significant progress, having already walked through 203 scenes to become familiarized with the process.
"All of the training started with me and Jack," he said. "We started working together from day one."
Dauplaise, a certified explosives investigator, explained that the training is teaching Jack to detect any ignitable liquids, such as gas, propane, kerosene, butane and other substances commonly found in arson investigations. At the end of the eight weeks, the dog will be certified by a chemist, allowing him to aid investigators.
"These dogs are very effective tools when it comes to arson fires," said CCFD Chief Bob Seltzer. "Jack will be the only arson dog currently in Rhode Island and will be yet another tool in our toolbox."
"This has been a big commitment on Adam's part," Seltzer went on. "It's amazing how he does it."
Dauplaise explained that even with the trained dog, he and other investigators will still have to perform each step of the investigation process as they normally would, as many of the substances Jack will detect are commonly used in homes and not necessarily evidence of arson. However, Jack's presence will allow the process to be faster and more efficient.
When he's not training, Jack acts and is treated like an everyday pet, but when Dauplaise orders him to "find the cause" of a fire, he delivers.
"Jack trains with me and comes home every night with me as my pet," he said. "But once he has his harness on, he's a totally different dog and knows what he's supposed to do."