Today’s throwback Tuesday’s post is going to pay homage to the Firehorse. We hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we do!
These hardworking fire horses filled a huge gap between the use of human power and mechanized power. Though horses are still used for work in many parts of the world, we often forget that the traits of power and intelligence that carry us in competition were once used to build our modern world. Fire horses not only adapted but thrived in their fire department jobs, and they have rightfully earned their spot in firefighting history.
The period from the Civil War to the early 1920s could be known in firefighting as the era of the fire horse. Prior to that, humans pulled the wagons that transported the water tanks, ladders and equipment — not an enviable job.
Before the modernizations of the 20th century, fire was a particularly venomous threat. City infrastructures could often not handle the quick transport of water, and buildings were constructed primarily of wood. One small fire could end up burning down an entire city.
Buying and training one fire horse cost as much as ten firemen, but a horse could pull more than ten times the weight and was faster than a man. To be considered as a fire horse, a horse had to meet certain basic conditions. Training was rigorous, taking up to two years and a fire horse’s career usually lasted from four to eight years. A horse could fall into one of three categories: lightweight at 1,100 pounds for the hose wagons; middleweight at 1,400 pounds for the steam engine wagons; and heavyweights pulled the hook and ladder wagons. Even the “lightweights” had to be hearty horses at 1,100 pounds. Breed types used were typically Percherons, known for their strength and athletic ability.
Glorious in beauty and in service;
We cannot call them dumb
Because they spoke in deeds
In every hour of danger
Enshrines their loyalty and courage”