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.