DES MOINES, Iowa — Fighting a fire can be easier than identifying the cause; a challenge that convinced the Des Moines Fire Department to take on a new investigator.

They’ve recently added a new member to their team and he’s able to do something no other firefighter can. 

Yahtzee, who will be two next month, is a specially trained K-9 able to detect accelerants that could be used in arson fires. The black lab can make quick work detecting chemicals that may be used when intentional fires are set.

“He can smell things we can’t,” DMFD Capt. Eric Huntoon said.

State Farm Insurance provided the funding and training for Yahtzee through their Arson Dog program.

After training for several months in Maine alongside fourteen other K-9’s, Yahtzee was paired with Capt. Huntoon. 

“He lives at home with my family and our other dog,” Huntoon said. “He’s like any other lab, but when I put my belt on he knows it’s time to get to work.”

The pair spent two weeks learning to work as a team.

“Humans have five to six million (smell) receptors. K-9s have 225-300 million, so he can sniff things we can’t even begin to think about,” Capt. Huntoon said.

So far, the addition of Yahtzee has paid off. The dog has been through two post-fire fire scenes and during one, he helped identify a substance that was used in a recent suspected arson fire, Capt. Huntoon said.