COLORADO SPRINGS – There’s a new resource for firefighters in Colorado, a K9 named Jo-Jo. She’s trained in arson detection to help fire crews across the state.
“Rather than an investigator has to go out with an electronic tool and manually sweep, she’s able to do about 1,000 square feet in 15 minutes,” Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control Fire Investigator Dawn Tollis said.
She helps determine if a fire was started accidentally or deliberately by searching for traces of fire accelerants, like gasoline or lighter fluid. Once Jo-Jo gets the search cue, her nose is on the hunt for scents showing signs of arson.
“These dogs have 225 to 300-million scent cells to our 5 or 6 million. As handlers we’re cautious of what we put them into. If we want into. If we walk into an area where I feel like I need respitory protection, I’m not going to put her in that,” said Tollis.
Ater 200 hours of training, she’s an arson detection canine. Jo-Jo is already putting her sniffing skills to work. She’s helped with six fire investigation cases in Colorado since graduating from the State Farm Arson Dog Training program in April.
“On top of that we’re doing scent detection training, we’re doing block, speed drills. We’re doing actual burned buildings at fire departments. We’re doing actual fire scenes,” Tollis added.
Jo-Jo works alongside her partner, Tollis, who’s a lead fire investigator based in Canon City. The duo travels all over the state helping crews with both structural and wildland fires.
“As a team, she and I are doing everything we can to do what’s best for you. To assist you all in what’s going on,” Tollis said.
When she’s off-duty, Jo-Jo is just a regular, spunky pup.
“She belongs with us. She stays with us. We take care of her all the time. I love her spirit. She likes to play and go run and do zoomies out in our yard when she’s being a dog,” Tollis explained.