BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                       Bill No:  SB  
                           Senator Dean Florez, Chair
                           2007-2008 Regular Session
                                 Staff Analysis

          SB 902  Author:  Padilla
          As Amended:  January 7, 2008
          Hearing Date:  January 8, 2008
          Consultant:  Art Terzakis

                    Firefighters: accelerant detecting dogs

          SB 902 requires the State Fire Marshal (SFM) to work with  
          recognized statewide fire investigation entities, to update  
          on or before January 1, 2010, standards and procedures  
          governing the use of accelerant detecting dogs and their  
          handlers. Specifically, this measure:

          1.  Requires the SFM, in conjunction with recognized  
            statewide fire investigation entities, including, but not  
            limited to, the California State Firefighters'  
            Association, to update and amend standards and procedures  
            for accelerant detecting dogs and their handlers.   

          2.  Requires that these standards and procedures be updated  
            and amended on or before January 1, 2010, and include  
            among other things, dog selection, department and handler  
            selection and evaluation, fire scene practices, blind  
            odor recognition testing, and statutes and regulations  
            relating to the use of accelerant detecting dogs. 
           3.  Requires the SFM, in updating and amending these  
            standards, to consider information and publications by  
            recognized statewide fire investigation entities,  
            including, but not limited to, the California State  
            Firefighters' Association. 


          SB 902 (Padilla) continued                               
          Page 2

                                  EXISTING LAW

           Existing law requires peace officer and civilian drug  
          detection canine trainers working under the direction of a  
          law enforcement agency to follow specified protocols of  
          behavior.  In addition, there are standards to guide the  
          use of accelerant detection canines and their handlers.

          The State Fire Marshal (SFM) is responsible for approving  
          regulations and developing building standards that promote  
          fire and life safety for inclusion into Title 24,  
          California Code of Regulations (e.g., Building Code, Fire  
          Code, Electrical Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing and  
          Historical Building Code, etc.).  In addition to the  
          building standards adopted by the SFM in Title 24, SFM is  
          responsible for other regulations contained in Title 19,  
          California Code of Regulations.  These regulations govern  
          fire and panic safety, including fire protection systems in  
          all buildings, fireworks, flammable fabric standards, flame  
          retardant chemicals, explosives, gasoline vapor control  
          systems, and hazardous liquid pipeline safety.    
           History of the Fire Service Dog:   The use of dogs in the  
          fire service dates back to the 18th century when horses  
          were used to pull steam pumpers.  Dalmatians were used to  
          keep the horses company in their stables and to keep them  
          calm at fire scenes until their role diminished into that  
          of a mascot.  Today, man's best friend is playing another  
          important role in the fire service, namely to assist fire  
          investigators in locating evidence of ignitable liquids or  
          accelerants such as petrol, kerosene, diesel fuel, etc.   
          Dogs have also been used successfully for some time in drug  
          and bomb detection.

          A training program initiated in the mid 1980's, as a joint  
          effort between the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and  
          Firearms (BATF) and the Connecticut State Police (CSP),  
          proved to be an unmitigated success when the capability of  
          a Labrador retriever, used by the CSP, to detect the odor  
          of accelerants, exceeded any expectations.  The success of  
          that particular training program resulted in the  
          establishment of various federal, state, local and private  
          K-9 training programs.


          SB 902 (Padilla) continued                               
          Page 3

           SB 902 (Padilla):   This measure would require the SFM to  
          work with recognized statewide fire investigation entities  
          to update standards and procedures governing the use of  
          accelerant detecting dogs and their handlers.  These  
          updates must be completed by January 1, 2010. 

          The author's office emphasizes that adequately trained dogs  
          and handlers are crucial to a credible arson investigation  
          that can hold up in court.  In order not to compromise the  
          efficiency of fire investigations and the reliability that  
          court cases are not compromised due to inadequately trained  
          arson dogs or handlers the author believes that it is  
          important that the state update and amend, when necessary,  
          existing standards for the use of arson dogs. 

          This measure is nearly identical to SB 828 (Padilla) of  
          2007 which was vetoed by the Governor.  In his veto  
          message, the Governor noted that he would direct the Fire  
          Marshal to review existing standards to determine whether  
          updating the standards would be appropriate at this time.
           California State Firefighters' Association (CSFA)  
          Accelerant Detection K-9 Team Standards:   In September  
          2006, the CSFA established an Accelerant Detection K-9  
          advisory group for the purpose of developing acceptable  
          standards for the working Accelerated Detection K-9's in  
          the State of California.  The group looked at several areas  
          relevant to the K-9 program including but not limited to,  
          department selection, handler selection and evaluation,  
          canine selection, fire scene search practices, blind odor  
          recognition testing, field searches, people searches, and  
          the law, in general, as it pertains to the utilization of  
          K-9's.  The standards developed by the working group are  
          intended to assist fire and police agencies that utilize  
          K-9 teams.  
                                PRIOR LEGISLATION
           SB 828 (Padilla) 2007-08 Session.   Nearly identical to SB  
          902 (Padilla) of 2008. (Vetoed - Governor's veto message  
          stated that the bill was unnecessary due to the fact that  
          CAL FIRE and the State Fire Marshal have existing authority  
          to update their standards and certification requirements as  
          they deem appropriate.  Also, veto message indicated that  
          the Governor intended to direct the State Fire Marshal to  
          review the current standards and, if necessary, work with  
          all interested stakeholders to update and amend standards  


          SB 902 (Padilla) continued                               
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          to reflect the latest applicable fire investigative  

           Federal Legislation:   H.R. 659, the "Canine Detection  
          Improvement Act of 2007" - this legislation addresses the  
          need for improved and coordinated training, encourages the  
          use of domestic dogs and confronts the need for more dogs  
          by establishing a "Domestic Canine Breeding Grant Program"  
          to increase canine numbers through both public and private  
          means.  H.R. 659 also proposes to create a canine team  
          accreditation board to ensure proper certification  
          standards and to prevent fraud and abuse. (Status: referred  
          to House subcommittee)  
           SUPPORT:   As of January 4, 2008:

          American Federation of State, County and Municipal  
          California State Firefighters' Association

           OPPOSE:   None on file as of January 4, 2008.

           FISCAL COMMITTEE:   Senate Appropriations Committee