by Photo courtesy of State Farm

The Chula Vista Fire Department welcomed a new Fire Investigator and K-9 duo who will help keep the community safe by finding evidence of gas or fuel at fire scenes. 

Maggie Greene, a fire inspector, and her Partner, K-9 Hanah, an accelerant detection canine, are tasked to investigate arson crimes in the community. Greene became a K-9 handler through the State Farm Arson Dog Program in April 2022, making history as the program’s first Latina arson canine handler. 

In order to achieve this, Greene had to overcome her decades-long fear of dogs and the emotional obstacles that come with it. 

At the age of eight, Greene suffered a severe injury after being attacked by a retired police dog, she shared in a press release. Doctors said they may have no other option but to amputate her injured leg, but Greene’s mother insisted on a different option at a different hospital. 

“My parents took me to a local community medical clinic but they only spoke Spanish and the doctors spoke English so I had to translate for them,” Greene said in a statement. “The whole incident was like a bad dream and even today, I only remember bits and pieces.”

Greene began her fire service career in 2004 as a Fire Prevention Specialist with the City of Escondido Fire Department before joining the Chula Vista Fire Department (CVFD) in 2012 as a Fire Investigator. 

Fire Investigator Darin Golden and arson K9 Cali were located just steps away from Greene when she first began at the CVFD. ​​Golden had trained and certified with his partner, K9 Cali, through the State Farm Arson Dog Program. The pair worked together for 12 years and when Cali’s retirement was announced, the opportunity came up for someone to continue their legacy. 

Green said she respected that K9 Cali was a member of the fire department, reflecting that Cali's sweet demeanor and Darin's patience helped her become more comfortable around dogs. Realizing how working with a law enforcement dog would help her be more efficient with her job, Greene applied to train as an arson dog handler as the replacement team for Darin and K9 Cali. 

“I never thought I would do something like I'm doing today as a K-9 Handler,” Greene said. “I was always avoiding dogs my entire life, and now I’m applying for a job that has a dog as my coworker.” 

According to Greene, being a K9 handler is “not easy work,” but “it's rewarding work.” 

“I’m just very proud to be able to be in the fire service where we are all committed to our community. And certainly, without the help of State Farm, I wouldn't be able to do this,” Greene said in a statement. 

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