The St. Louis Fire Department maintains a memorial for the fallen K-9 Balko

ST. LOUIS – “The night Balko died, not only did we lose a working firefighter; we lost a family member. He was part of my family home with my kids. He was part of the K-9 team. And he was part of the St. Louis Fire Department,” said Brent Sevener, Balko’s supervisor and St. Louis firefighter.

With Balko’s collar on a cross and his ashes just feet away, the St. Louis Fire Department family gathered Wednesday to honor their fallen K-9. Balko’s handler, Sevener, recalled the K-9’s willingness to work and ability to sneak up on snacks.

“When we would wake up in the morning and I would grab my backpack, he would be excited because he knew he was getting ready to get to work,” Sevener said. “He was waiting for someone to make popcorn so he could pick it up off the floor.”

The memorial began with a procession down South Jefferson to Machine House 1. Balko fell to his death on March 3 during a search operation at the former iconic Barr Building downtown. The 6-year-old Hanoverian Bracke from Germany was with the fire department for about three and a half years. He is credited with finding nine bodies in his career.

St. Louis Mayor Tushaura Jones presented Sevener with a proclamation declaring March 15, 2023 as “Balko Day” in the City of St. Louis. A worthy award commemorating the cherished relationship between Sevener and Balko.

“The Bible says in Proverbs 12 and 10 that a righteous man respects the life of his animal,” said Capt. Leon Whitener of the St. Louis Fire Department. “Fireman Sevener, cheer up for The Lord has declared you a righteous man.”

This call to faith under the flag on a day the St. Louis Fire Department remembered a dog they will never forget. The St. Louis Fire Department maintains a memorial for the fallen K-9 Balko

Sarah Y. Kim

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