victorian era    
Volunteers The Roles The Day The Duties  
The day of a Victorian firefighter was never dull, and when they were not fighting fires the men were almost always assigned to some duty or chore around the firehouse. Firefighters worked 10 or 14 hour shifts, beginning at 6. The first in the station to awake was the driver, who began tending the horses. His first task of the day was always to water the horses. Next he cleaned out the stalls, removed the horses’ bedding and separated the straw. While the driver cleaned the stalls, the horses munched on hay, and a half an hour after watering the driver fed them fed oats (Horse maintenance was serious, regulated business, since the animals were so vital to the performance of the fire station, and firefighters formed strong bonds with their horses. In 1895, San Francisco passed an ordinance specifically related to the care and cleaning of horses in the fire department). After he was finished watering and feeding the horses, the driver would wake the rest of the men at the station.
     From 8 am to 10 am, everyone assisted in general maintenance and cleaning of the station. The men cleaned and replenished lanterns with coal, washed the horses’ harnesses, and polished the metal of the truck and engine. Next the whole station would participate in fire drills, going over basic drills and techniques led by the captain. If there was a stretch of time in which no fires had occurred, drills were essential daily routines to keep the firemen on their toes. Later in the day the men would travel around the neighborhood and conduct inspections of pumps, fire hydrants, and fire escapes, as well as check buildings for fire safety.