Rockford Fire introduces the city's first-ever arson dog - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Fire introduces the city's first-ever arson dog


Meet Epi, a highly-trained arson dog who now calls Rockford home. 

"She is a sweetheart, she really is," said her arson investigator John McGee.

Rockford Fire says it first bid for an arson dog nearly ten years ago as part of a grant from the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. 

Finally, last month, Epi arrived.

"Having Epi, that's going to be a big partner, and it's a pleasure. I'm glad we were able to get it done," said resident agent in charge of ATF in Rockford Leon Edmond.

Epi is one of 56 ATF arson dogs in the country. And since she was part of a grant program, Rockford Fire says it got Epi for free. 

But not only is Epi super cute, she's also super talented. Epi is trained to work on the scene of a fire and sniff out potential causes to it, where it started and even alert her handler to any traces of accelerants. 

"When she smells something, she sits and she won't move, and when I give the command to show me, she'll actually put her nose right where she thinks it is," said McGee, who's also Epi's handler.

While Rockford Fire says it's used arson dogs in the past, it's now the first local department in Illinois to have it's very own.

"Having our own canine allows us a lot of flexibility, having that dog at a moments notice," said Rockford Fire division chief Matt Knott.

For arson investigators that means more tools to solve more cases. 

"Our end goal is to prosecute those involved in this and like I said this is another tool to help us do that," added Knott.

But if you see Epi on the scene of a fire, McGee says that doesn't necessarily mean it was caused by arson.

"I will bring her to every fire, whether its accidental or intentional, accidental fires are a great way to train her." 

Both a tool and a companion that firefighters are welcoming with open arms and lots of kisses.  

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