Fire Origin & Cause Investigations

"Ashes to Answers"

DFPC's Arson Investigations Unit is responsible for determining the origin, cause, and circumstances of fires (structural and wildland) that occur throughout Colorado.

Fire and arson investigators examine the physical attributes of a fire scene and identify and collect physical evidence from the scene. This evidence is then analyzed to help determine if the cause of the fire was accidental or deliberate. During the scene examination, investigators may find evidence such as accelerants, tampered utilities, and specific burn patterns, which may indicate criminal activity.

To Request Assistance: (719) 544-2424

Contact DFPC Lead Investigator: dawn.tollis@state.co.us

Newest Member of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control ‘Nose’ Fraud

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control’s (DFPC) newest member has four legs and a keen sense of smell giving her a nose-up on arsonists. Meet Arson K9, JoJo, whose skills are already being put to use to investigate causes of fires in the state. 

K9 JoJo is an accelerant detection specialist, certified according to the standards of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. She graduated from the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program on April 30 with her handler, Lead Fire Investigator Dawn Tollis, of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control (CDFPC). They bring a valuable set of skills to Colorado and the agency. Upon returning home, the team responded to their first call on May 9th.

“We are very excited about adding a K-9 Accelerant dog to our fire investigation capabilities,” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan. “The scent-discriminating abilities of a canine are better than any equipment we can take to a fire scene when arson is suspected.” 

Since its beginning in 1993, the State Farm Arson Dog Program has placed more than 425 dogs in 46 states, three Canadian provinces, and the District of Columbia. All accelerant detection canine teams are trained by Maine Specialty Dogs and certified by the Maine State Police. The program is available to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the United States.

"This means a great deal to State Farm, fire departments, and local communities," said Eloy Martinez, State Farm Vice President—Agency. “The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of a community. These K9s enable investigators to do their job more efficiently and effectively.”

K9 JoJo is the fourth arson dog in active service in Colorado trained through the State Farm program. CDFPC Lead Fire Investigator Tollis and K9 JoJo have scheduled a month-long demonstration tour showcasing JoJo’s exceptional accelerant detection abilities. Their first stop is Colorado Springs and other fire agencies following. There will be time for interviews and photos along the way. The schedule can be found online at dfpc.colorado.gov under the Fire Origin & Cause Investigations page. 

“I am so very proud to be able to bring this valuable resource back to fire and law enforcement agencies across Colorado,” said DFPC Lead Fire Investigator, Dawn Tollis. “Jo-Jo is a wonderful dog with amazing capabilities and we are really excited to get out and work with our stakeholders.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 280,000 intentional fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, with associated annual losses of 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. The actual number of arson fires and amount of property damage is likely much higher as arson is an underreported crime. Arson dogs played a key role in helping to determine the cause of many of these fires. 


For more information about the Arson Dog Program visit the website at www.arsondog.org

2021 Meet & Greet Tour for Fire & Law Enforcement Agencies

DFPC's Lead Fire Investigator Tollis and K9 JoJo have scheduled a month-long demonstration tour showcasing JoJo’s exceptional accelerant detection abilities to fire and law enforcement agencies. 

Schedule

June 8:  Montrose Fire Station-1, 1:00 p.m.

June 9: DFPC Center of Excellence, Rifle Garfield County Airport,1:00pm

June 15: Steamboat Fire Department, 2:30pm

June 29: Summit Fire & EMS, 1:00pm

June 23: Poudre Fire Authority, 1:00pm-3:00pm

June 22: Fort Morgan Fire Department, 1:00pm-3:00pm

Please note these are not demonstrations for the public. Public demonstrations can be coordinated through the DFPC Public Information Officer.

 

Last updated: 6/9/2021