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Passing the smell test


Accelerant-sniffing dog takes center stage at Mussey Twp. Fire Department Open House


October 11, 2017
CAPAC — Lt. Scott Braun and his dog, Gunner, were special guests at the Mussey Township Fire Department's Open House on Monday.

Braun, a member of the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, and his accelerant detection partner, travel across the state to investigate suspicious fires.

The eight year-old Golden and Labrador Retriever mix came to St. Clair County through a grant program facilitated by State Farm Insurance that covers the $30,000 price tag for the dog and training.

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Lt. Braun and Gunner are one of just three three arson investigation teams in the state. photo by Catherine Minolli.
"Gunner has recovered $2.5 million in denials of insurance claims for fires that were set intentionally," Braun told the children, families and firefighters assembled at the fire hall.

Braun and Gunner are one of only three accelerant detection dog teams in Michigan. They mainly cover St. Clair, Sanilac and Macomb counties but are called to other fires outside of that area.

Braun demonstrated how Gunner works by putting drops of accelerant around the hall for his dog to find.

Arson dogs have an average accuracy rate of 95 percent for finding accelerants. Gunner is also trained to pinpoint sources, allowing Braun to collect samples that can be used by investigators, Braun noted.

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The fire department hosted Monday's event in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week.

Community members got to check out gear, go for fire truck rides through the village, enjoy cider and donuts and take home free gifts courtesy of the fire department and Ryan Kersten's State Farm Insurance Agency.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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