Deputy Brian A. Schad & K9 "Sparks"
The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office Accelerant Detection Canine Unit has served the State since 1990. The K9 Unit examines fire scenes throughout the State of Delaware for the presence of accelerants. The first K9 was trained by the Delaware River and Bay Authority. In 1997 the agency received a grant from the State Farm Insurance Company for an Accelerant Detection K9. The grant provides the K9, training, lodging, and travel expenses for the initial certification. The agency has continued this partnership with State Farm and has received its third K9 from this grant.
K9 Sparks is a black Labrador Retriever born in May 2004. Sparks is a “companion dog” and lives and travels with Deputy Schad at all times. Sparks is a food reward K9, which refers to her training. Sparks is required to make a positive alert on an accelerant before she is rewarded with a handful of her food. When no fire scenes are available for the unit, training aids are utilized for the K9 to work. Sparks has to go to the source of an accelerant 40 to 50 times a day to get her daily allotment of food.
The Accelerant Detection K9 Unit is currently staffed by Deputy Brian Schad, lead handler, and Deputy John Galaska, assistant handler. Deputy Brian Schad has been a Deputy State Fire Marshal since 2002 and is assigned to the Kent County/Headquarters Division. Deputy Schad and Sparks trained at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Alfred, Maine and were certified as a team in May 2008.
Deputy Galaska has been a Deputy State Fire Marshal since 2003 and is assigned to the Sussex County Division. Deputy Galaska and Sparks attended a week long assistant handlers course at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and were certified as a team in April 2009. With the addition of Deputy Galaska to the unit, continuous service of the K9 is available to the State.
The Accelerant Detection Canine Unit is made available to all Delaware’s municipal fire marshals to assist in their investigations as well as out of state agencies. K-9 "Sparks" replaces the State's previous K-9, "Kelly" who retired after a successful career.
For more information on the State Farm Arson Dog Scholarship Training Program, visit: www.arsondog.org.