Last year, we blogged about Austin Weishel who created the "Ashes to Answers" sculpture, a 17 foot high, 450 pound bronze statue of a firefighter with his arson dog. The National Fire Dog Monument went on a cross-country tour, going on display in eight cities since then.
This year, on October 23rd, State Farm, the Washington D.C. Fire Department, Austin Weishel and Colorado Bureau of Investigation Arson Investigator Jerry Means moved the National Fire Dog Monument to its permanent home at DC Fire Station 2. This location is close to the White House and will have approximately 1,500 visitors walk by the monument every day.
There are only 81 arson dog teams in the United States and Canada. (Washington’s fire department has two.) State Farm sponsors the program that trains them. After a fire has been extinguished, the dogs visit the scene with their handlers. With their super-sensitive noses, the K-9s can detect various kinds of accelerants. When they find a smell they’ve been trained to recognize, they give a signal: sitting and pointing with their nose to where the scent is strongest. A sample is collected and examined in the lab.
Jerry Means was the prime force pushing for the monument. His first arson dog was Erin, who retired in 2007, and passed away in 2010. Jerry commented that he was so inspired by her, he thought there had to be a way to honor these dogs and validate them. We think this has succeeded in that goal!