West Palm Beach Fire Rescue K9 suddenly dies while on standby for Hurricane Florence

West Palm Beach Fire K9 Baylee found dead. (WPB Fire Rescue)

Local first responders are ready to step in to help people before and after Hurricane Florence makes landfall.

But West Palm Beach Fire Rescue is mourning the loss of one of their own.

K9 Baylee died suddenly a day after being put on standby to work the storm relief, the fire department announced Tuesday morning.

“It’s like losing a family member. A brother or a sister firefighter,” Assistant Fire Chief Brent Bloomfield said. “It’s also losing a hero, who was getting ready to be deployed on a mission to save lives.”

K9 Baylee served with the fire department for more than five years.

The department has been around for 124 years, according to Bloomfield, and the golden retriever was the fire rescue’s first-ever Urban Search and Rescue K9.

“Baylee was coming up for retirement in the next year or two. He [Capt. Adam Mackillop] had her for 8 years," he said. "It’s very rough when you have to go through that."

K9 Baylee was a valuable member of the team.

“Her main focus is to find people. If people were trapped and they’re in a rubble pile, or under a collapsed house, her job is to find that person and locate them for the search crews, so the search crews can come and rescue them,” Bloomfield said.

Even through heartache, saving lives remains their priority. Bloomfield says they already deployed a first responder Monday night.

“We’re on deck, depending how bad, and we know this storm is going to be a bad one, they may be getting deployed within the next day or next week,”he said.

The department will pay their final respects to K9 Baylee in a few days.

In the meantime, they are training a second K9 dog named Phire.

“There’s not many dogs like her," Bloomfield said. "Hopefully Phire will live up to the same as what Baylee’s done, and hopefully she will be just as good at her job as Baylee was."

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