History of Horses in Firefighting

 In 1832, the New York Mutual Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 volunteers was the first to purchase a horse to pull their engine. The idea caught on fast. Horses became a beloved part of the fire service all over the country. The horses were often trained to the sound of the bell to come out of their stalls and stand and wait at the front of the apparatus. Here are some of the four-legged heroes that helped to pull Haverhill's engines.

The Use of Horses in Haverhill’s Early Fire Department 1872 

     The first horses used by the Haverhill fire department was in 1872.[1] A pair of bays, driven by Abraham Cham­pion, was used to draw the steam fire engine “General Grant,” and a pair of grays, driven by C. W. Foster, was used to draw the steam fire engine “City of Haverhill.”

The drivers, Mr. A. Champion and Mr. C. W. Foster, were the first permanent men in Haverhill’s fire department.  When the alarm sounded, the stable doors would fly open, the trained horses would come running out and stand in place, and the men would lock the collar and jump on the wagon. In taking up the reins, the men would unhook the apparatus which held the harness in place, and it would fly up to the roof. In practically no time, the rig was rushing down the street to a fire.


[1] Fifty years after the introduction of horses into Haverhills fire service, the department would be com­pletely motorized. The last pair of horses being retired from the fire service on October 1, 1922.