Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

Claims Journal: Accelerant Detection Dogs in Fire Investigations

Posted on Wed, Aug 08, 2012 @ 11:28 AM

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By Denise Johnson | August 6, 2012

Article Taken from: The Claims Journal

An accelerant detection dog should be considered for all large loss residential and commercial structure fires, vehicle fires, incendiary fires and any undetermined fires, according to Michael Koster, fire investigator and owner of Calif. – based Reliant Investigations.

Reliant’s dogs and fire investigators are put through a five week intensive course offered through the Maine State Police K-9 Training Center in Vassalboro, Maine. The facility, located on 200 acres of land, contains a canine agility/confidence course as well as classrooms and a training building.

The dogs are trained according to Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning. The dogs are trained on a daily basis to recognize odors. Once the dog recognizes the odor it is fed.

“Training has to be daily. These dogs are hand-fed five to seven times a day every day,” Koster said during a presentation on the subject at the Combined Claims Conference in Long Beach, Calif.

Over the course of a year that comes out to about 40,000 repetitions, he said. The dogs are never fed at the same time of day and the amount of food varies. After the first year, the dogs are fed three to five times daily to maintain their skills.

“These dogs have to initially be reviewed on a monthly basis for the first year of their training,” Koster said.

After that, they are reviewed on an annual basis.

“It’s very crucial that the dog is tested, trained and evaluated annually both for the criminal and civil side,” the fire investigator said.

To test the dogs on a daily basis, his investigators use 50 percent evaporated gas. This is based on an ATF study which found the amount of residual gas left over after a building fire was approximately 45 percent.

A small amount of gas is poured into a can twice a day and, according to Koster, the dog will follow the can, sniffing the gas, until it is rewarded with food.

“Friday,” a black Labrador Retriever, and Bryan Phillips, recently completed the 200 hour canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm and certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Accelerant detection dogs work approximately five to seven years and they don’t suffer health consequences from the toxic fumes because of their relatively short lifespan.

The dogs are trained to weave in and out of the scent cone until they arrive at the source. Part of the training includes having the dogs identify the source, pass it and return to it.

When a dog finds the source, there is no barking or scratching to alert the investigator. Instead the dog will point to it with its nose. This is to avoid tampering with the scene.

“Always work with passive alerts, never aggressive alerts,” Koster said of the alert system used by accelerant detection dogs.

Koster’s dogs are tested, certified and trained through two different entities. He said t’s very important that a fire investigator validates its accelerant detection dogs.

A major benefit to using an accelerant detection dog on a fire scene is the cost savings.

The dogs are considered more accurate than some devices used today. In addition, because of the increased accuracy, the fire investigator spends less time out on a scene. Lastly, expenses for ruling out samples taken from a scene can be reduced.

Tags: fire, fire scene, fire scene investigations, fire investigator, accelerant detection dog, state farm, fire investigation

State Farm Insurance Mobile Apps to Help Their Long Island Customers

Posted on Wed, Jun 06, 2012 @ 10:06 AM

  What's Your App?

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But it always seems that the Insurance Industry is always slightly behind the curve when it comes to technology.

Even though its still very early, the mobile app market is starting to revolutionize the way insureds communicate with their insurance company and/or insurance agent.

Mobile Apps are also starting to compliment the jobs of insurance carriers, insurance adjusters, insurance agents and the companies that service the Insurance Industry here on Long Island and throughout New York.  .

We have found a few mobile apps that we would like to share with you that we feel might be of interest to the Long Island Insurance Community.

Specifically for the Property & Casualty Sector...

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 Pocket Agent®

With Pocket Agent, you can find an agent, report an insurance claim, do your banking, get roadside assistance and much much more...

What comes from having a good neighbor right in your pocket?

Convenience at your fingertips.

Now State Farm services and unique mobile features are closer than ever and there to help you in any and every way possible.

With Pocket Agent®, our free Android app, you can find an agent, report a claim, make a bank deposit, do your banking, get roadside help and a whole lot more! Now whenever and wherever you need us, State Farm is there for you.

Application Features

Some of the Pocket Agent® features are only accessible to registered® users. Register Today!

  • Pay Insurance Premium – Have a mobile lifestyle? Pay my Premium now gives you an easy way to pay your State Farm® insurance premium using Pocket Agent® for Android.
  • Claims Center – Document a claims checklist with the push of a button. Registered users can submit a claim and check claim status.
  • Bills & Payments – Convenient way to pay your insurance premium and/or bank bills.
  • Take and submit pictures using your camera and record accident details and vehicle damage.
  • My Insurance Card** – Can’t find your insurance card? Now your policy information is at your fingertips!
  • Check the balances of State Farm Bank® and Mutual Fund accounts.
  • My Agent – Contact your State Farm agent or find one close-by.
  • On The Road – Search for tow trucks, taxis, locksmiths, and rental cars by current location or zip code.
  • Locate a State Farm® Select Service® Repair Facility*.
  • Search for State Farm agents by current location or zip code.
  • Other claimants and other vehicles – This feature adds sections on the claim form for the other parties involved in the accident, including name, insurance information and vehicle information.
  • Describe the Scene – This feature allows users the ability to make free-form notes in addition to filling out the claim form information.
  • Password Reset – Users can reset their State Farm password on their mobile device.
  • MyTime Deposit® - Making a deposit to your State Farm Bank® account is as easy as point-and-shoot. Just endorse the check, enter the amount, and take its picture. (Compatible with Android OS 2.1 and above) Learn More
  • View State Farm Bank Deposit and Credit Card transaction history.

Click here to Get Apple's iOS App Here


Tags: insurance app, pocket agent, long island mobile app, insurance, new york, state farm, long island insurance, long island app, state farm pocket agent, new york insurance

State Farm Insurance Sticking With PSP Program

Posted on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 @ 08:06 AM

state farm,insurance,psp,claims,insurance claim,coverage,premier service provider,disaster, restoration, disaster restoration, property damage, insurance claims, certified restorer, long island, new york, construction, insurance companies, brian martin, homes, buildings, commercial buildings, disasters, water damage, fire damage, smoke damage, indoor air quality, mold remediation, insurance company, iaq, cr, ria, restoration industry association, 24 hour emergency, disaster response, emergency disaster response, reconstruction, insurance repair, water damage repair, fire damage repair, building repairWith speculation running rampant that State Farm may be dropping its Premier Service Program, the insurance company reiterated to the Restoration Forum this week that the program isn’t going anywhere.

However, there is a possibility that the program could be seeing some changes as several sources have indicated that State Farm plans to outsource PSP to a third party manager.

“We are constantly looking at our programs for ways to make them better,” spokesperson Dick Luedke said. “That isn’t anything new, but at this time we have not made any decisions on changes for PSP”.

Additional rumors about the program dropping its exclusivity with SERVPRO and ServiceMaster have also surfaced and while those changes, as well as any other changes are always a possibility, nothing has been done at this time.

“We have not nailed any decisions down at this time,” claimed Luedke.

The Restoration Forum will continue to update you on this story as well as any other news that shapes the restoration industry.

Article taken from The Restoration Forum


Tags: psp program, insurance, restoration, state farm, premire service program, homeowners insurance

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