The problem

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are more than 350,000 home fires each year, resulting in more than 2,500 deaths and nearly 12,000 injuries. Property damage losses from fire total $6.5 billion annually.

The No. 1 cause of fires in the home is cooking, and the top cause of cooking fires is unattended cooking. While there are many ways to effectively extinguish a fire, choosing the wrong method can have catastrophic consequences.

Another very serious problem is arson, which results in hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars in property damage each year. Providing education on arson, arson investigation, and fire prevention through community outreach programs is essential to safer communities.

State Farm involvement

State Farm researches the causes of – and ways to prevent – home and building fires. State Farm evaluates fire-prevention products to determine effectiveness, and regularly communicates on this issue nationally and locally.

Since 1993, State Farm has funded the acquisition and training of more than 380 arson dog teams in 45 states, three Canadian provinces, and the District of Columbia.

The impact

State Farm convened a group of experts to develop a national standard for preventing cooking fires from electrical stoves. The standard passed, and State Farm received industry recognition for its work.

The State Farm Arson Dog Program is the only program outside of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that trains arson dogs for law enforcement. No other company in North America offers this type of program. Every year, State Farm trains 10 – 20 new teams and places them in departments across the country.

The use of dogs has revolutionized fire investigation because of the time savings and reduction in sample collection. An arson scene may take a human day or longer to investigate. During this time, the arson investigator collects numerous samples from the fire scene for lab testing to identify possible accelerants. Because of canines’ superior ability to discriminate among scents at a fire scene, an arson dog can investigate a scene in minutes and identify fewer samples to the lab for testing. This quickens the investigation and saves money for the investigating department – reducing costs for taxpayers.