ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Fire Department lost a key member of its K-9 Search and Rescue Unit during a search mission downtown Friday evening.

K-9 Balko died in the line of duty while performing a search at the Railway Exchange Building.

Balko, a Hanoverian Hound from Germany, was six years old. He had served with the St. Louis Fire Department for more than half of his life, handled by firefighter Michael “Brent” Sevener.

“Rest easy Balko, we’ll take it from here,” said the St. Louis Fire Department in a statement Saturday.”

Balko had been assigned to search the Railway Exchange Building, located at 615 Olive St., prior to his death. The building has been closed for many years and was condemned by city officials in January.

While serving in St. Louis, Balko had helped with nine finds, including missions at the tornado-struck Amazon Warehouse in Edwardsville and the fire-damaged Bob Kramer’s Marionettes venue.