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Four-legged friend set to become newest firefighter for WFPS


Winnipeg firefighters are getting a furry friend to go after arsonists.

A new report by the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) showed in 2023 it conducted more than 500 fire investigations. It notes the city is dealing with a high number of suspicious blazes and arsons, including in vacant properties, where attempting to determine the cause can be difficult and time-consuming.

Now fire investigators are about to get help from a source more commonly used by police. A canine, trained by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is set to join the WFPS. The report said the dog can process a scene faster than humans and can immediately help determine the cause. The dog will be trained to detect accelerants.

The report said this will boost the number of prosecutions and deter arsonists. It also showed that other cities with a K9 program have seen arsons drop by up to 50 per cent.

Community Services Committee Chair Coun. Evan Duncan said this is another tool for the fire service to use during an investigation.

"The people who are lighting these fires are not thinking, 'Hey, fire has a dog I shouldn’t do this,'” said Duncan. “But it is going to give us an opportunity to ensure that a proper investigation to the fullest extent is done."

There is already one payoff from the program. The ATF is providing the dog and five weeks of training in Virginia for free.

"Not to make light of it but free is free why would we not take them up on this opportunity?"

The program will have costs attached for taxpayers going forward. Expenses like food and animal care are estimated to be $20,000 a year, which will be covered within the existing fire paramedic budget.

The report said a fire investigator from Winnipeg is set to attend the ATF training in April this year. Once that is complete, the investigator and their new K9 partner will be on the streets. Top Stories

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