Glendale and Peoria firefighters train search and rescue dogs for disaster certification

GLENDALE, AZ - Glendale and Peoria firefighter canines went through a rigorous certification test Friday to meet FEMA standards. The dogs are trained to search for live victims in a collapsed building scenario.

Seven canine-owner teams took the test. The group is part of the Southwest Urban Search and Rescue K-9 program. If the teams pass certification, they would be able to deploy around the state to help with disaster search and rescue.

The exam took place at the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center. The canines were released into a mock 10,000-square-foot collapsed building. People, pretending to be victims, hid under the rubble. The canines, trained to detect human scent, were supposed to find three victims in 15 minutes. 

The test also included a checklist to measure characteristics like obedience, focus, and agility.

Captain Linda Rider, with Glendale Fire, and her dog Koa have been training together for two years. 

"(Koa's) my teammate," Rider said. "Koa means warrior, (Koa's) my little warrior. I'm nervous."

Rider said she participated in the program because a search and rescue dog is extremely important in a building collapse situation.

Their sense of smell is much better and they can help find victims when we can't, Rider said.

Results of the test were not immediately available.

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