Last Edited: Oct 14, 2008 8:41 AM
BLAZE, THE FAMOUS NKF&R FIREDOG, DIES AT 13
(KINGSTON, Kitsap County) -- It is with profound sadness that North Kitsap
Fire & Rescue announces the loss of their most beloved member.
Following a brief illness and surrounded by several close family members,
Blaze the Fire Dog died peacefully on Tuesday, February 12th at
Blaze was born on June 7, 1994 in Kingston, Washington. His parents, Reba
and Buttons, were members of the Steele family. The Steeles, upon first
seeing the new puppy, knew that the dog was destined for life as a fire dog.
NKF&R’s members agreed. A contest was held to name the new mascot and, from
among many wonderful entries, firefighters selected "Blaze" as the moniker
for their newest and littlest brother.
Blaze began his fire service career shortly after he was weaned, and was
initially assigned to the operations division, riding in his own seat on the
fire engine and responding to emergencies. But, after expressing his
displeasure with his assignment by chewing through radio equipment and seat
upholstery, district leaders transferred Blaze to the community services
division where he assisted firefighters with fire and injury prevention
Unusually calm and friendly for his breed, Blaze charmed citizens – young
and old – with his exceptional good-looks, his loving disposition, his
patience with children and his impressive demonstration of the "Stop, Drop
and Roll" technique. He lived in the fire station throughout his career and,
between station tours and classroom visits, provided consistent service to
firefighters by cleaning their plates and keeping their bunks warm when
emergencies called crews away from meals and rest times. But, like many
public safety professionals, Blaze sacrificed to serve. Most dogs crave the
consistency of a single master, and Blaze had to adapt to a life that
included a large and varied cast of human companions.
Since 1994, his frequent visits to local elementary and preschools have
earned him a place in the hearts of every child he met. When firefighters
sponsored a party celebrating Blaze’s tenth birthday, more than 100 fans
joined in the festivities. Later that year, he was named Grand Marshal of
the Kingston Fourth of July Parade. Most recently, Blaze’s handsome face was
featured in the 2006 Kitsap Humane Society Calendar.
The Dalmatian breed is thought to have become associated with firefighters
when the animals were used as calming companions for the teams of horses
that pulled fire pumpers before the advent of internal combustion engines.
Some say that the dogs – who love to run -- were also useful at improving
response times by keeping other animals away from the horse teams as well as
acting as watchdogs to protect horses and equipment from thieves. Today,
although many firefighters own Dalmatians, modern "firehouse dogs" are
apparently rare. So, Blaze caught the imagination of local and national
media, appearing in a number of newspaper and television stories. He once
was the subject of a seven-minute live interview on CNN.
A succession of injuries and illnesses plagued Blaze as he aged but, thanks
to the firefighters’ love and the community’s generosity, he recovered from
several serious situations. Approaching fourteen years of age, he was
preparing to retire from active duty as worsening arthritis caused pain and
threatened his mobility. Finally, a growth on his throat severely hampered
his ability to eat, drink and breathe. Firefighters made the terribly
difficult decision to spare their partner a painful death, and chose to end
Blaze’s life in a peaceful and controlled manner with the assistance of his
longtime vet, Dr.Moore at Apple Tree Cove Animal Hospital.
Blaze is survived by his family -- countless current and former firefighters
-- and an entire community of friends.
North Kitsap Fire and Rescue