July 16, 2019
They are the unofficial mascot of the fire service.
No, not the rookies. We’re talking about the Dalmatian.
We’re used to seeing firefighters and dalmatians together. It’s part of the imagery and lore of the fire service, but how many of us know where it all began?
Pulled By Horses, Protected By Dogs
The relationship between firefighters and Dalmatians dates back more than a century, back to a time when fire trucks were actually fire wagons.
In the days of horse-drawn carriages, Dalmatians were known for running alongside carriages as they made their way down streets or trails. It wasn’t long before Dalmatians became a common sight escorting fire wagons.
Dalmatians Clear the Way
When the fire alarm sounded, Dalmatians would race out into the street, alerting bystanders that the fire wagon would soon be coming through. They’d race to the scene with the firefighters, but their work wasn’t done yet.
Horses are typically afraid of fire, but the presence of the DalmatiansDalmations had a calming influence. They’d distract and comfort the horses when they got closer to the fire.
It’s also said that Dalmatians then stood guard, protecting the firefighters' belongings as they battled the blaze.
A Status Symbol
Parades were a common thing on city streets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Naturally, firefighters were drawn to participate. They loved showing off their equipment, always keeping it polished and shined.
The Dalmatian became yet another point of pride. The more you had alongside your truck, the higher your social status.
An Enduring Icon
We no longer need Dalmatians to clear the way, but we still love them.
For those fire stations that still have a Dalmatian for a mascot, they’re still a point of pride. They will always be synonymous with firefighters.
And we’re proud of their service.
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