The dalmatian was first used in the fire service when most fire companies were volunteer or privately operated. There was some competition for services. Some of the firefighters were actually recruited not only for their strength in fighting fire but for their fighting abilities to protect the company and its equipment. Insurance compaines paid the fire company that put out the fire, so the one that made it to the scene, hooked up to a hydrant and completed the task, got paid. The dogs worked well at this task of protecting not only the horses, but the equipment in the stations and on the fire ground as well.
Early firefighters took tremendous pride in their companies. They would turn out and parade through the city at almost any occasion. Great care was taken in making your rig more fancy than the next one. Polished brass brilliant paint jobs and gleaming leather were always maintained. It was only natural that when word of this remarkable spotted dog was heard, companies had to have one. Dalmatians began appearing with fire companies and they had the expected impact. People pointed and gawked. They were that extra piece of fancywork that every Jake wanted on his rig. The Dalmatian did the job proudly but they had some drawbacks. They were hard to get and many of them were deaf. The American fire service was well served by this noble breed.
These free roaming dogs would dash out at passing teams of horses. They would nip at the legs of the horses and generally harass the equines. In addition to keeping the horses calm in the stable, the coach dog also had to fend off these marauding dogs whenever the steam engine traveled over the road. It was a very common sight to see the dog running out in front of the horses.
Today the Dalmatian serves as a fire house mascot, but back in the days of horse drawn fire carts, they provided a valuable service. Dalmatians and horses are very compatible, so the dogs were easily trained to run in front of the engines to help clear a path and guide the horses and the firefighters to the fires quickly. They are still chosen by many fire fighters as pets in honor of their heroism in the past.
(Information obtained from Montgomery, AL.)