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Bakersfield FIRE Department
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2101 H Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661)326-3911

 

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BFD Historical Project - BFD Fire Horses

 



Fire Horse's Prayer
To thee, my Firefighter Master, I offer my prayer. Feed me, water and care for me, and, when the fire is put out, provide me with shelter, a clean, dry bed and stall wide enough for me to lie down in comfort. Always be kind to me. Your voice often means as much to me as the reins. Pet me often, so that I may serve you the more gladly and learn to love you.


--- Author Unknown


History of Horse-drawn firefighting

In 1911, the BFD was at the height of its horse-drawn firefighting era. The Department employed at least twenty-two (22) brave and noble draft horses at this time, kept and cared for to answer the emergency calls of the citizens.

Ladder

According to the earliest surviving records, maintenance of the horse fleet was a major part of daily operations. The Department was routinely involved in the shoeing and hoof care of the animals, providing veterinary care, and purchasing thousands of pounds of wheat-hay, oats, and barley for the beloved steeds. Fire Horse "Ned" was retired to Naybors Pasture in 1909, and "Jenks" was brought out of retirement in 1910 to replace "Max". There are no other records indicating what became of the rest of the hard-working animals that faithfully served the City from 1877 to 1914...but they all certainly deserved a restful, honorable retirement.

The BFD was completely motorized by 1914...ending the Department's era of horse-drawn firefighting.

Horse Fleet of 1906

"Ned" (Steamer #1)

 "Dick" (Hose Wagon #1)

 "Mike" (Hose Wagon #1)

 "Dave" (Truck #1)

 "Dan" (Chemical #1)

"Sam" (Chemical #1)

 "Jeff" (Steamer #1)

"Ed" (Truck #1)

"Prince" (Steamer #2)

 "King" (Fire Station #2)


 "Frank" (Fire Station #2)

 "Jerry" (Fire Station #2)

 "Tom" (Fire Station #2)

 "Max" (assignment N/A)

 "Jenks" (assignment N/A)

 

 

Firefighter and HorseBFD Fire Horses - "Hooking Up"

When a BFD horse was released from its stall, either automatically by the alarm mechanism or manually, the Firefighter's first priority was to snap the hanging collar (see photo) around the horse's neck. He then placed the reins into the bridle rings.

The Engineer would then pull the "right-hand drop", which released and lowered the harness assembly onto the horse's back.

 

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