Raleigh Retires the Last Fire Horses, November 1914

The Raleigh Fire Department ended its horse-drawn era in November 1914. Reported the News & Observer on November 14, 1914:

“Faithful Fire Horses No Longer Needed”

“Bill and Frank Will Never Again Carry Wagon to a Fire; Both Have Fine Records”

“Bill and Frank, the two beautiful black horses of the old Rescue Company, have done their last duty with the Raleigh fire department. These valuable horses, among the best ever trained by the local firemen, a few days ago stepped slowly from their comfortable stalls, passed their wagon and may never again hear that familiar tap of the fire house bell. Bill has been transferred to the water department and will live at Lake Raleigh, the permanent storage basin, and Frank will be used in the sanitary department.”

“Bill was in service for twelve years and there has never been a more faithful and hardworking fire horse. He has been to nine firemen’s tournaments in the State and in 1908 at Asheville lowered the world’s record** in the hose wagon race, making the time in 28 seconds. This record has been lowered twice since. Frank, the running mate to Bill, has seen only five years of service. In their dash to fires in this city these two handsome horses always attracted attention and people in the business district would always leave their stores when the bell sounded to see Bill and Frank fairly ‘flying’ with that Rescue wagon.”

“With the department of Bill and Frank the Raleigh fire department now has but two horse sin service, but within the next few days these will be sold. When the new auto pumper is placed in service the department will not have a horse. Everything will be auto-driven. Even the steamer and hook and ladder truck will be pulled by motor power.”

** So-called “world’s records” were in all likelihood just those statewide records that were made and broken at the annual state firemen’s tournaments. And, for that matter, quite likely exclusive to the white (or black) fire companies competing at the time, since there were two state organizations back in the day, one for white firemen, and one for black.

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