On May 16, three members of the Gaffney Lane Neighborhood Association delivered a 2-foot-tall stuffed Dalmatian as a house-warming gift for the firefighters at the new Hilltop Community Fire Station in Oregon City, which opened in February.
Firefighters thought it was appropriate that the stuffed animal was named Spot and plan to proudly display the donated mascot in their new station's day room.
The idea of Spot came to be when the Gaffney Lane Neighborhood Association toured the new fire station and noticed that the firefighters did not have a Dalmatian, in keeping with U.S. fire-service traditions from the days of horse-drawn fire engines. Legend has it that Dalmatians became bred for fire service, particularly in America, because they would help calm the horses pulling the fire wagons.
However, Clackamas fire stations have a no-pets policy, making it impossible for firefighters to keep a real Dalmatian. Taking matters into their own hands, the Gaffney Lane neighbors ordered Spot, complete with a custom collar, and delivered it to the firefighters.
Brandon Paxton, Clackamas Fire spokesman, said it's a little bittersweet for the agency to now have to impose a no-pets policy. He would love it if Clackamas Fire allowed fire-station dogs to help keep firefighters company, but there are too many logistical issues, plus potential harm to animals.
"I don't know that we've ever had dogs in the stations, because it's not a good situation for the dogs, with the firefighters being in and out so much," Paxton said.
Paxton credited Gaffney Lane Secretary-Treasurer Angela Wright with spearheading the idea to purchase Spot.
"It was really thoughtful for Angela Wright to provide the station with Spot," he said.
While the station may have a new mascot, Spot shouldn't be confused with another Dalmatian mascot for firefighters, Sparky. Clackamas Fire volunteers will often dress as Sparky the Fire Dog, the mascot for the National Fire Protection Association. Clackamas Fire has been using the Sparky mascot at schools and other community events to help teach fire safety for many years.
Sparky will be making his next appearance Sept. 14 at the Hilltop Safety Fair, next to the Safeway in the Hilltop shopping center. The annual event is popular with children, who get to interact with local firefighters and firefighting equipment.
"We'll have the side-by-side burn trailer demonstration, free helmet giveaways and all sorts of other safety information geared for kids and families," Paxton said.