Dalmatians 101

Old Fire Engine
Have you ever wondered why a Dalmatian was the Fire Department's mascot? 

The tradition of Dalmatians dates back to centuries ago, though now they only serve as mascots. 
Dalmatians played a vital role every time firefighters raced to a blaze. It all dates back to when firemen used horse-drawn carriages instead of firetrucks. People realized that Dalmatians would run along side  horses and defend the horses from dogs or other animals that could spook or attack the horses during the ride. 
Dalmatians often ran in pairs with one on either side of the coach, or close behind the horses. When the alarm sounded, the dogs would run out of the firehouse, barking to let bystanders know that they should get out of the way because the fire wagon would soon come by. Once the wagon was on the street, the Dalmatians would run beside it. The Dalmatians became even more important when the horses reached the fire. The horses were afraid of the fire and the presence of the Dalmatians distracted and calmed the horses as they pulled the wagon closer to the blaze. The Dalmatians also stood guard at the wagon to make sure no one stole the  firemen's equipment or horses. 
Fire Dog
FIre Dog
After the invention of firetrucks, Dalmatians were no longer needed by firemen, though some firehouses kept the dogs around as companions to preserve the traditions. Dalmatians continue to guard the firemen's equipment, but instead of running alongside fire trucks, they ride inside of them. The dogs are also known to catch and kill rats that have taken up residence in firehouses.