NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – They are fire investigators on four legs who help the FDNY solve some of the most difficult arson cases around the city.
Weighing in at just under 70 pounds each, Bucca and Pete pack a type of crimefighting muscle different than any other firefighter. They’re part of the K9 arson squad.
They sniff, they sit, they solve.
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“He can detect basically a pin drop,” said Joe DiGiacomo of the FDNY Fire Marshals Unit.
Inside the FDNY’s facility on Randall’s Island are Bucca and Pete, the four-legged MVPs of the Fire Marshals Unit, are training for duty.
“He’s looking for accelerants, anything somebody can use to set a fire is what he can detect on,” DiGiacomo said. “He’ll sit to indicate he found something.”
The dogs are trained to detect 30 different types of accelerants. All they need is a whiff of residue to show fire may not have been accidental.
“What does he bring to the investigation that a human couldn’t?” asked CBS2’s Jessica Moore.
“His nose,” said Dan Pagels. “There are times you go into a fire scene completely burned down and you have no idea how or where or why it started.
Bucca and Pete have worked hundred of fire investigations their partners DiGiacomo and Pagels. They trained together 14 hours a day for nine weeks, and as the dogs were learning to detect scents, DiGiacomo and Pagels were learning to trust their dogs.
“When he finds something, there’s nothing physically there, so I have to trust him,” DiGiacomo said.
“If he doesn’t find anything, we know an accelerant wasn’t used. We need to go another direction,” Pagels said.
“That’s a lot of trust,” Moore said.
“That’s why we trust the dog,” Pagels said.
Pete and Bucca are named after heroes lost on 9/11: FDNY Chief Pete Ganci and Fire Marshall Ronnie Bucca.
“Chief Ganci. He was chief of department,” Moore said.
“He was the department. So it’s an honor to name him after the chief of department we lost on 9/11,” said Pagels.
“Do you think he would be proud?” Moore asked.
“I think so, absolutely,” Pagels said.
The department wouldn’t share with CBS2 exactly how many arson cases the K9s have helped solve, but says the city is a lot safer because of them.
Bucca and Pete also help MTA K9s solve crimes in the subway system and are on the ground for large-scale events like New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
They’re both rescue dogs who have been with the FDNY for two and a half years.