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According to David Fitzsimons and Bernard Matheson who wrote the definitive history of the Ottawa Fire Department, there were complaints in the 1850s of volunteers who were quick to show off their sky-blue and silver laced uniforms in parades, but were no-shows when there was an actual fire.

To “secure the utmost promptitude in the attendance of the different [fire] companies and water carriers at fires,” the City began to offer in the mid-1860s significant financial premiums to first responders.

“The first engine to arrive in good working order” received $12, the second $8.

The first water carrier received $2 and the second $1.

But the City was too cheap or too poor to provide the funds for horses so the engines had to be manually pulled to fires.