"The Fire Ladies"
Although women were not allowed to become members of the
Toledo Fire Department until 1984, lady equines had been distinguishing
themselves for over a hundred years, before being retired in 1916.
One instance of their ability was back in 1902 when fireman, Benny Miner,
driver of Number 2’s steamer, located at Eagle Lane and Cherry, was
feeding his prize team of Percheron mares, named "Min" and "Mag".
Suddenly, an alarm sounded for a Summit Street store, it was at the
noon hour and he knew the downtown streets would be busy. He raced
to his seat and grabbed the reins. Mag and Min went like a streak
from their stalls at the sound of the bell. Their harnesses dropped
and belly bands snapped. A rookie fireman, relieving at the station,
raced by the front of the team, but forgot to insert the bits in their
mouths. The doors opened and the team took off dragging the coal
burning steam wagon behind them, at what even a race car driver would consider
a good clip. As soon as they hit the street, he knew he had no control
and wondered how he was going to guide this runaway team through the downtown
traffic. He said he felt foolish sitting high atop this rocking steamer
pulling at the horses shoulders, but Mag and Min were high spirited and
speedy horses and were used to making fire runs in the downtown area.
They made the correct turn on Cherry Street and then onto Summit St.,
wove their way through the many wagons and the other horses and pedestrians
that thronged the streets in front of them. It all ended happily
when the ladies pulled up directly in front of the fire and stopped.
Driver Miner slid from his seat, patted them on the neck and said, “Nice
going ladies, you earned your oats today.” When asked later in the
day how he could account for the unbelievable actions of the horses, fireman
Miner said, What do you expect? These are downtown ladies and they
know their district as well as I do."
Bill O’Connor, Toledo Fire Department Historian