HORSES IN THE DEPARTMENT
use of horses to transport fire equipment to the fire scene began in 1870-74 and
continued until 1924 when the last horse drawn ladder-chemical unit was taken
out of service. This happened at the same time the East side station #2, on
Potter Street was closed. The horses were kept in stalls at the back of the
station. The fire apparatus, whether they were steamers, hose Carts, hook and
ladder, or chemical units were always in place with harnesses in a hanging
position controlled by ropes and pulleys. The horses were very intelligent and
well trained. When the fire bell rang, the horses would come out of the stalls
and get into position under the harnesses. The firemen would drop the harnesses
into position and cinch them up in seconds, ready to respond to the fire. The
horses were given daily exercising on the street, which is said to have
attracted attention, particularly from the children. A close relationship
developed between the fire horses and the firemen. The firemen were concerned
about the horses when they became ill. This was evidenced in the minutes of
April 4, 1876: "The horse 'Tip' is still improving but will not be fit for
duty for some time." Another entry into the November 1895 minutes went into
great detail: "Old Dick the fire horse is still ailing." This entry
was followed in the December 1895 minutes, which listed the expense of $2.50 to
Dr. Lee Wintz for chloroforming Old Dick.
Chief Fred Bills was stationed at the East Side #2 station as a fireman and
lived with his family in the house adjoining the station, the whole family
became attached to the horses. Chief Wilbur Bills recalls his mother talking
about two of the horses, "Bob" and "Dick" almost as though
they were family.
the East Side station was closed in 1924 the horses were sold to fanners. The
story is told that everything was O.K. until the dinner bell was rung. The
horses jumped the fence and were hard to find and to control.
Fireman George Vining with
two of the fire horses in front of the Fire Station in the
Old City Hall. Mr. Vining
served on the department from 1907.1913.