ORLANDO – For 11 years, members of the Orlando Fire Department worked alongside one public servant with a remarkable talent for investigating fires. In fact, that lone member of the fire department had a 97 percent success rate for locating evidence of accelerants at fire scenes.
This afternoon, Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando Fire Chief John Miller joined OFD’s firefighters in offering a fond farewell to one of their own, who recently passed away.
“She was a true public servant,” Dyer said. “I am truly sad for this loss. She will be very much missed.”
Dyer and Miller held a memorial ceremony at Orlando Firehouse 1 at 78 W. Central Boulevard to honor the passing of Maxine, the Orlando Fire Department’s first arson dog.
“Today, we gather to remember one of their most dedicated members, Maxine,” Dyer said.
Known simply as Max, Dyer noted that she was “considered one of the very best arson accelerant dogs in the nation,” and also worked for OFD in other unique ways, including by participating in demonstrations and educational presentations for citizens across Central Florida.
“She worked by fulfilling countless public service requests,” Dyer said. “She was truly loved, I know.”
On Friday, Jan. 20, Max, passed away after a battle with cancer. Miller said Max had served with the Orlando Fire Department for more than 11 years, before retiring last year as she approached the age of 13.
In her time with OFD, Miller said, Max worked more than 400 fires. Max’s accomplishments, Miller said, should not be forgotten.
“We want to make this a special occasion,” Miller said. “We try to attend all funerals, all ceremonies. We try to show if you serve the city of Orlando, we will honor you as well.”
After the tribute ceremony, Max was laid to rest with her Police K-9 counterparts at the Primrose Center.
“This was our first arson detection dog,” Miller said, noting that Max “came to us through the Maine State Police,” an agency that trains dogs for use by other police and fire agencies across the country.
“We were very fortunate to get Max,” Miller said. “She had an excellent detection rate.”
Max’s final case, he noted, happened just a few months ago, when she was used at the scene of a fire at a home in College Park that had sustained more than $1 million in damages.
“She was an extremely successful dog,” he said. “Most arson accelerant dogs only last eight years. Max lasted 11 years. Max has provided a great service to the city of Orlando.”
Max retired a few months ago to the care of her handler.
“This is not the end, again, to the story,” Miller said. “Max will never be replaced.”
But he did note that the Maine State Police had once again provided the Orlando Fire Department with another dog trained to work at fire scenes. That dog is Jesse, and she came to Orlando at the age of two.
“I want you to meet our newest arson accelerant dog,” Miller said. “Jesse is a great dog, with a great disposition. We’re extremely proud to say we do have the next generation.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.