Newest member of SAFD arson bureau helps investigators detect ignitable liquids

Bruno is the department’s third ignitable liquid detection K-

The San Antonio Fire Department has a new asset to their arson bureau -- Bruno, the ignitable liquid detection K-9.

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Fire Department has a new asset to their arson bureau -- Bruno, the ignitable liquid detection K-9.

SAFD has many tools to help rescue crews fight fires and save lives. While we’re used to seeing firefighters jumping off their rigs, springing into action, and fighting fires, a part of the department you don’t usually see is the arson bureau.

“I would be able to do firefighting and the possibility of doing law enforcement as well and then marry that with possibly the K-9 deal. It was just a dream for me,” said Aaron Romero, an arson investigator with SAFD.

Romero and other investigators work to determine if fires were intentionally set, a tough job if it weren’t for help from a four-legged co-worker.

Bruno is a 2-year-old lab mix, and he’s certified to detect ignitable liquid.

“Diesel to gasoline to Coleman fuel to lamp oil -- anything that can be used to start a fire,” Romero said.

KSAT 12 put Bruno’s sniffer to the test. Romero placed a few drops of ignitable liquid near the steps of one of their training buildings and let Bruno get to work.

The commands Romero gives are in Czech because Bruno was born in Europe.

Bruno gave the signal within seconds with his tail wagging and laying down. He had correctly found the gasoline.

Bruno’s find gave him a lot of praise, with Romero telling Bruno he was a good boy.

“He gives us a really good direction and as to where we need to look and where we need to start pulling evidence samples and to send off to get analysis done,” Romero said.

Bruno’s highly trained nose helps speed up investigators’ jobs in finding the evidence they need to prove a fire was arson.

“He’s just another tool to add and put all that stuff together to build a successful case,” Romero said.

Romero says Bruno is the best partner he’s worked alongside. His kids think so too. They’re the ones who named him.

“My kids at the time had been watching “Encanto” pretty often, several times a day. And Bruno came up,” Romero said. “They ask about him all the time, and they want to know how he’s doing and if he’s doing his job.”

Bruno is the third ignitable liquid detection K-9 the department has had.

The other two were Kai and Jenna. Kai has since passed, and Jenna will retire soon.

Bruno is also unique because he’s the first play reward dog for SAFD. The other two were food reward dogs.


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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.