AFR’s new K-9 trained to detect fire accelerants


A 20-month-old black Labrador Retriever who specializes in detecting accelerants is now part of Albuquerque Fire Rescue. Her name is Wheezy, and this is a first for the department. 

“Albuquerque Fire has never had an accelerant K-9,” Fire Investigator Ron Gunderson said. “She’s amazing. She definitely makes me look good.”

KRQE News 13 learned not only will Wheezy be used to aide in Albuquerque fire investigations, but she’ll assist other departments all across the state.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue partnered with the ATF to get Wheezy and Gunderson flew out to Virginia for six-weeks worth of training.

“Lots of learning curves based on just the training requirements and everything she needs daily,” Gunderson said.

She’s only been here for a month and already she’s assisted in five fire investigations. She’s trained to sit every time she sniffs out an accelerant. Her reward? A doggy treat.

“There are six different classes that she can detect,” Gunderson said. “That includes charcoal lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene.”

But AFR is not the only department that will benefit from her skills, Gunderson said she’ll travel across the state to help other fire departments in their investigations. 

“Just recently San Juan County needed us to run her through a fire scene,” he said. “It was a mobile home fire that had burnt all the way through. The roof was gone, the floor was gone but she was fearless and went through and did her job.”

AFR said she’s a resource that will assist in fire investigations state-wide.

“We can have an idea based on the fire scenes if there was an accelerant used, but we may not necessarily know where to collect the sample from and she can pinpoint that for us,” Gunderson said.

The City of Albuquerque did not pay to get Wheezy here, but it does pay to care of her.

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