Austin Weishel, a twenty-two year old Volunteer Firefighter from Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue was in our Nation's Capital recently as he introduced a statue he built in his family's Colorado basement. The 17-foot high and 450 pound bronze sculpture of a firefighter and arson dog traveled 2,000 miles to be placed in Washington, DC where it will remain to honor firefighters and their canine companions.

The National Fire Dog Monument entitled "From Ashes to Answers" was commissioned by Jerry Means, an arson investigation agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Means' own arson dog Sadie, received national attention last year as the winner of the 2011 American Human Association Hero Dog Awards in the category of Law Enforcement/Arson Dog and was the model for the sculpture. Means led a four-year fundraising campaign, selling challenge coins to fund the project.

It's Not Easy Being an Arson Dog or a Handler

Arson dogs are trained to sniff out minute traces of accelerants (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) that may have been used to start a fire. Each arson dog works and lives with their handler, a law enforcement officer or firefighter trained to investigate fire scenes. The canines and handlers are required to complete four weeks of training in Maine, training every day during those four weeks.

Thanks to Lorraine Carli, from NFPA for permission to use the above photos. See the article Lorraine wrote here.