This article is a companion piece to this video Subro-Live! – Cinder the Fire-Investigating Dog, a special episode of our On Subrogation series where subrogation lawyer Rebecca Wright speaks with Steven Chapman of S.C. Fire Consulting, Inc.: a consulting firm that performs investigations for insurance subrogation in cases of fire loss. Specifically, Steven shows Rebecca his firm’s secret weapon: Cinder, the fire-investigating dog. How could a dog possible help in something as tricky as the subrogation investigation and litigation process for losses due to fire damage? Steven explains, and even gives Rebecca a demonstration of how Cinder’s skills help his firm to determine or rule out possible causes of fires.

Cinder’s Role in Identifying or Ruling out the Cause of a Fire

Depending on the extent of the fire damage, how a fire starts and spreads can be difficult to determine. And if you can’t determine the cause of a fire, it subsequently makes identifying any responsible parties problematic. Cinder has been trained to identify the presence of accelerants after a fire. When she smells an accelerant, she alerts her colleagues by sitting and pointing her nose at the spot. The fire consultants drop a marker in the area and later take samples that are sent to a lab for testing. 

Canines have an exponentially higher ability to detect smells. After a large fire, humans aren’t going to be able to smell a spent accelerant; most of the time, they have to rely on sight. Cinder gives the investigators at S.C. Fire Consulting the leading edge -over firms that don’t use fire-investigating dogs; a report that correctly identifies or rules out accelerant as the cause of a fire is better for a subrogation lawyer arguing a case than a report that couldn’t.