Meet O’Lana the fire dog: Chief Cashin swears in new ‘Ignitable Liquid D Detection K9’

O’Lana was sworn in as a member of the city’s Ignitable Liquid D Detection Canine Unit (IGL K-9 Unit). Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – On November 30, 2023, Chief Ryan J. Cashin swore in a new fire dog to work with arson investigators.

Accelerant Detection K-9 O’Lana, handled by Deputy Fire Marshal Greg Brown, is a 3-year-old black Labrador.

She is certified by both the Massachusetts State Police, Fire and Explosive Investigation Canine Unit and the New England State Police Administrators Conference.

In order to achieve this certification, O’Lana completed 11 weeks of training, including 5 weeks of imprinting on various accelerants and 6 weeks of K9 handler training. O’Lana is trained to detect 28 different types of accelerants that could be found at a fire scene.

History of Bureau of Investigations Ignitable Liquid Detection Canine Unit

The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office  has since 1990 had use of this unique weapon in detecting the use of ignitable liquids at fire scenes, in the form of Labrador Retrievers.

Since 1990, Maine Specialty Dog/Maine State Police trained all canines used by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office. The certification process is for both the handler and canine as a team, and is conducted by the Maine State Police and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The initial phase of training for this program is five weeks of training and testing for the both canine and the handler. After successful completion, the handler maintains the canine seven days a week, year-round. The team is required to re-certify annually over the course of three days.

The Labrador retriever is used for this particular program due to its size, love for work, and drive to eat. The program used for these canines is a food-reward system based on both food and praise. When not working at a fire scene, their handlers maintain them daily. This daily routine can be anything from working or practicing at a fire scene to performing a demonstration for public groups or working on scent discrimination. When not working, the dogs enjoy the company and home life of the family with whom they live.

The canine program was initially funded solely through donations. As the program has grown and proven itself, the maintenance of the canines is funded through the division’s operating budget. The initial certification of the canine and its handler is still funded by State Farm Insurance Company.

The handlers are provided with specially equipped vehicles for transporting and housing their canines. These vehicles are equipped with a custom-made cage with built-in water dish; the cage replaces the rear seat. In addition, each vehicle is equipped with a temperature monitoring device and an automatic fan with window roll-down system.