One of the most recognized symbols of the fire service is the Dalmatian dog. The origins of the breed are unknown. No one knows really how old the breed is. They were thought to have come from Dalmatia, but recent evidence shows them clearly painted in Egyptian tombs. It is known that the Dalmatian, because of its poor hunting abilities, was relegated to the stable area of fine manor homes. It was in these stables that the Dalmatian became acquainted with the horses. It is quite common to keep dogs and other small animals, such as goats, around stables to keep high-strung horses company to calm them.
Dalmatians were used by the fire service in the days of the horse drawn fire engines because they were not afraid of the horses and they would guard the fire wagons. Since in the early days of fire fighting all departments were volunteer, and insurance companies would pay only the department that was hooked up to a hydrant. This lead to competition and some sabotage between rival fire companies which led to the natural use of guard dogs to protect the equipment. The Dalmatian, with its superior agility and endurance could also run out in front of the horses and clear the streets for the approaching fire engine. In this way, the fire engine did not have to slow down for traffic and make the horses tire early. When the horses were replaced by gasoline driven fire engines, many fire departments kept their Dalmatians. In many areas you can still see the Dalmatian standing proudly, on top of the fire engine as it races to another emergency.