Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9, 1909 - Fire Horses

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].
Excellent Time Made On Quick Hitches


The New Horses Are Also Getting to Know Their Work - Citizens Are Proud of Record Made by Firemen

While no record has been kept of the "quick hitches" made in the houses, yet some of the companies do it in a little better than 10 seconds which according to our idea is going some.
Lady Ring, the handsome big horse of the Ring company is much admired by the residents of the South End. Under the careful guidance of Charles Griffin she is rapidly learning all the duties of a fire horse.

"Cap," the faithful and good natured horse of the Hart comp
any was very quick to learn the ropes, it not taking over a day in breaking him in.

Dick and Frank, the Hill Hooks team, are always ready to get under the harness. They haul the handsome truck to the fires with a speed that is surprising considering the heft of the truck.

"Dan," the Mink's old reliable horse has had a hard pull to haul the chemical up the hilly streets in his district, and he will soon be relieved of this burden by another partner.

The Bellinger company's horse, about the strongest in the department, gave some trouble at first breaking him in, but this is all over, and he gets to a fire now in jig time.

Check out this 1901 movie (by Thomas A. Edison), showing the Albany, NY fire department on parade. You can see how heavy this equipment was - those horses were working hard.

For more 1900's vintage movies visit's Old Firefighter Movies. Their history of Fire Apparatus Past and Present is helpful also. I learned that "the chemical" that the lone horse struggled to haul up the Rensselaer hillsides contained tanks of bicarbonate of soda and sulfuric acid, which were combined either to directly extinguish fires or to pressurize and push water through a hose.

See the January 9, 1909 Front Page for stories like "Proposition to Pave Hill Streets" and Mayor Wm. J. Rockefeller's annual message to the Common Council.

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