Valentin, David. Fire K9s: Their Nose Knows. American Fire Journal.
Vol. 48. July 1996. p 38.
Abstract: The author, who works with a K9 named Jerry Lee, wrote
this article to rebut two points in another article entitled "Have
Nose, Will Travel," featured in the January issue of American Fire
Journal. The two points to be rebutted regard canine olfactory sensitivity
and the renaming of canine accelerant detectors to more accurately reflect
He agrees with the other article's statement that fire service dogs are
merely a tool, and while their assistance is valuable, they comprise only
a part of an investigation.
However, regarding specific research into the canine olfactory system,
the author cites studies from as early as 1935 in which a dog's sensitivity
to butyric acid was shown to be anywhere from 1000 to 100 million times
greater than man's. In 1970, the CIBA Foundation published studies suggesting
canine olfactory sensitivity to be 10-100 times greater than man's. And
most recently, Dr. Larry Myers, the founder of the Institute for Biological
Detection determined that the canine olfactory system can absolutely detect
at a level of parts per quadrillion. Dr. Myers believes that canines can
actually sense at a greater level but he does not have the lab equipment
to confirm this theory. The author believes that this research firmly establishes
that the canine olfactory sense is greater than and possibly more sensitive
than laboratory equipment.
The second point to be rebutted addresses a new term for accelerant detection
dogs--"combustible and flammable liquid canine" or CFL canines.
This term would clarify the fact that dogs cannot discriminate between an
accelerant and a flammable or combustible liquid that was simply present
during the fire. Therefore, the term "accelerant" is not appropriate.
The author sees no need for such a name change. In fact, he uses his own
dog to locate the presence of accelerants. He warns against the need for
names to be so job specific and suggests that "fire service dog"or
"fire K9" should suit everyone's purposes.
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