Nowadays, Dalmatians are kind of mascots for fire stations in the US – so much so that many call them the ‘official dog’ of the fire departments. But have you ever wondered how did we end up with this association?
Let’s find out.
A common legend has it that Dalmatians were chosen because they’re deaf and therefore, the loud siren won’t hurt their ears. Despite this being partially true (only 65-70% of Dalmatians have normal hearing), this was not the reason why they were initially brought to fire houses. As it turns out, Dalmatians, played a significant role in firefighting in the early 18th century. (the article continues after the ad)
During the 18th century, fire carts were horse drawn carriages. So when the sirens went off and the firefighters were flying down the road to fight the flames, there was no time to inform and clear the streets from pedestrians. Especially in crowded areas, this meant that the horses would have to often slow down or even stop due to traffic before reaching their destination. And here’s where Dalmatians came in handy.
Because Dalmatians are very friendly with horses, they were trained to run in front of the carriages and act as a siren to clear the path for the firefighters. In addition, Dalmatians have the ability to run for extremely long distances – as the Dalmatian Club of America puts it, “Dalmatians have the strength, vitality, fortitude and size to keep running along under the carriage for hundreds of miles.”
When the motorized fire trucks appeared in the 20th century and they were equipped with sirens, there was no need for Dalmatians to run along the carriages. However, to honor their important role and heroism in the past, fire departments chose them as mascots and this is why, even today, fire stations have Dalmatians to keep company to the firefighters.