ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — The Rockingham County Fire Marshal’s Office retired Accelerant K-9 Phoenix was laid to rest on Thursday due to health complications, according to Rockingham County officials.
Phoenix came to the Fire Marshal’s Office after serving several years with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI).
David Bridges worked with Phoenix from 2007 to 2011 as an NCSBI special agent/certified fire investigator.
Phoenix was a yellow Labrador Retriever who was trained in the detection of ignitable liquids commonly used in arson cases.
She was born on July 24, 2007, and raised as a puppy by the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Foundation.
Bridges said that through a series of evaluations, Guiding Eyes and Fire Investigation Training Services, Inc. noticed that Phoenix had a unique skillset that would make her indispensable in working as an accelerant detection canine.
Phoenix and Bridges were assigned to the NCSBI’s southeastern and northern piedmont districts.
Together, they helped public sector agencies, fire service officials and emergency service officials to seek the truth for their fire and explosion-related cases and cause determination investigations.
Between 2008 and 2011, Phoenix and Bridges worked hand in hand with the Rockingham County Fire Marshal’s Office, including former Assistant Fire Marshal/Certified Fire Investigator John Cruise, in performing fire and explosion-related investigations in and around Rockingham County.
Through an agreement with the N.C. State Property Office, Phoenix was bought by Rockingham County.
“…because of her tremendous drive to work, and strong bond formed during our work with the Rockingham County Fire Marshal’s Office, it was only fitting that K-9 “Phoenix” continue her service to the citizens of Rockingham County,” Bridges said.
Past Assistant Fire Marshal John Cruise was assigned as her handler. Phoenix was certified as an Accelerant K-9 through the North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ)/NCSBI.
As part of the Fire Marshal’s Office, K-9 Phoenix served Rockingham County and the surrounding counties of Alamance, Guilford, Forsyth, Stokes, Caswell, Henry and Pittsylvania.
Phoenix was influential in the successful prosecution of many arson cases during her career with Rockingham County.
Phoenix retired in 2015 and lived out her remaining days with John Cruise, his wife J.J. and daughter Jamie where she had became one of the members of their family.
Phoenix would have been 13 years old this coming July.