Why would fire fighters have a dog? I found several sources that claim that, in the past, dalmatian dogs helped keep rats away from fire houses but also, more importantly, guided the horse-drawn fire wagons through city streets, helping the horses to stay calm. (Part of keeping the horses calm included running off other dogs!)
Once at a fire, the dalmatian dogs could guard the horses and fire equipment from vandalism and theft and (one source claimed) keep the crowds a safe distance away from the blaze. The distinctive spotted fur of dalmatians was important because people could recognize that they were fire dogs.
Dalmatians were bred for endurance and for the ability to bond with horses. Apparently they were used as coach dogs, running alongside horse-drawn carriages and keeping horses calm, before they were pressed into service by fire departments.
Here are some educational materials on fire safety.
Here is the Firepup page, with several products and links to freebies, including the coloring, puzzles, and painting activities here.
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