READY TO ROLL AT PATERSON RIVERSIDE STATION - PHOTO BY DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING

READY TO ROLL AT PATERSON RIVERSIDE STATION - PHOTO BY DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FIRE HORSES


Horses joined the Paterson Fire Department on May 1, 1884, along with the city's first paid fireman - William Whittaker, a driver for Engine Co. 1.

That's according to the 1985 book ``Taking the Heat'' by the Honor Legion Firefighters of Northern New Jersey. Before the horses, the early volunteers used brute force to move their apparatus, hence the phrase ``Making a run.''

Paterson placed its first motorized fire engine in service in 1910 and continued using horses for another decade. The final run of Paterson's fire horses was made on July 4, 1920 to Box 634 - East 18th Street and Third Avenue - for a fire at 755 River Street.

It has often been said that fire horses received better treatment than firemen. The following news dispatch from Paterson - published in The Washington Post via The New York Telegram on Sept. 24, 1910 - supports that argument:

``An operation performed today by Dr. Matthew A. Pierce, city veterinarian, on a horse in Fire Engine Company No. 4, to ascertain the cause of a lump which had been raised on the animal's shoulder, resulted in finding a 10-cent piece. It was imbedded in the flesh nearly an inch."