Albuquerque Fire Rescue recently added 22 humans and one furry friend to its ranks, making them the only department in the state to have an ‘accelerant detection canine.’
At only a year and a half, Wheezy is already a highly regarded member of the Albuquerque Fire Rescue Team, doing things that humans can not.
“We are limited on what we can detect as far as accelerant use in a fire, she’ll be utilized to pinpoint or sample collections and then that will help lead to the prosecution of anyone who has committed the crime of arson,” said Ron Gunderson, an arson investigator with AFR.
This year has been busy for AFR. In the first five months of the year, the department responded to six fires in the Bosque, all six of them set intentionally.
There have been a number of fires started on purpose, including in April at the Rail Yards in downtown and in October when an arsonist torched a playground at Chaparral Elementary.
“The crime of arson is probably a little more prevalent then most people realize,” said Gunderson.
Now, Wheezy will help AFR determine if fires like these ones are crime scenes.
After only one week on the job, Wheezy is proving her worth. She has already been to two scenes, she will even help other jurisdictions outside of Albuquerque when needed.
Wheezy was trained for twelve weeks by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, then given to AFR at no expense.
The city will use its own money to care for her.