BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 902
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   June 11, 2008

                               Curren Price, Chairman
                   SB 902 (Padilla) - As Amended:  January 28, 2008

          SENATE VOTE  :   34-4
          SUBJECT  :   Firefighters:  accelerant detecting dogs

           SUMMARY  :   Requires the State Fire Marshall (SFM), in  
          conjunction with recognized statewide fire investigation  
          entities to update and amend standards and procedures for  
          accelerant detecting canines and their handlers, as specified.   
          The standards and procedures shall be updated and amended on or  
          before January 1, 2011.  Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Requires the SFM, in conjunction with recognized statewide  
            fire investigation entities, including, but not limited to,  
            the California State Firefighters' Association (CSFA), 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, 2011, 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,  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)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.

          2)Provides the State Fire Marshal (SFM) is responsible for  
            approving regulations and developing building standards that  


                                                                  SB 902
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            promote fire and life safety for inclusion in 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, the 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.    

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown.

           COMMENTS  :  

           Purpose of the bill  :  SB 902 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, 2011. 

          The author's office states 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 bill 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 SFM to review existing standards to  
          determine whether updating the standards would be appropriate at  
          this time.

           Background  :  In September 2006, CFSA 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  


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          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.  

           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.

           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  

           Prior legislation  :  SB 828 (Padilla), 2007-08 Session, nearly  
          identical to this bill, was vetoed by the Governor.  The  
          Governor's veto message stated that the bill was unnecessary due  
          to the fact that CALFIRE (Department of Forestry and Fire  
          Protection) and SFM have existing authority to update their  
          standards and certification requirements, as they deem  
          appropriate.  The veto message also indicated that the Governor  
          intended to direct the SFM to review the current standards and,  
          if necessary, work with all interested stakeholders to update  
          and amend standards to reflect the latest applicable fire  


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          investigative techniques.  


          California State Firefighters' Association
          None on file

           Analysis Prepared by :    Eric Johnson / G. O. / (916) 319-2531