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Gilbert Fire & Rescue’s ATF K-9 Accelerant Detection Team

Dave and SpringMeet Gilbert Fire and Rescue Investigator David Zehring and his partner Spring. Spring, an English Labrador Retriever, is no ordinary dog; she’s a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Accelerant Canine Detection dog, making this duo the only ATF K-9 Accelerant Detection Team in the state of Arizona.

In September 2012, ATF invited Investigator Zehring to participate in ATF K-9 Accelerant Detection Program. That’s when Zehring was partnered with Spring, and the pair have been together ever since.

Zehring and Spring went through an extensive six-week training at ATF’s Canine Training and Operations Support Branch in Front Royal, Virginia. Here, Zehring learned the necessary commands, got to know Spring’s personality, and  worked through 18 different structure fires and other accelerant training exercises to strengthen their relationship as a team.

Spring is a food reward dog and in order for her to eat when they’re not working a fire scene, Zehring sets up training sites that range from vehicles to new construction sites. When working a fire scene, Spring can typically detect whether or not an ignitable liquid was used to start the fire within 15-20 minutes, whereas it could take traditional fire investigators hours, if not days, to detect the use of an accelerant. This fire investigation team is not only helping Gilbert Fire and Rescue save time, money and resources, but also other municipalities and agencies across the state.