Dalmatians haven’t always been fire safety teachers for kids, before that they had a much more demanding job. More than one actually.
Before the combustion engine, when we were relying on horses for transportation, Dalmatians would run next to the carriages, often in pairs. Even defending the horses at times and keeping pace for hundreds of miles; the Dalmatian quickly became a very useful dog. At this point, it was a status symbol for the wealthy and powerful, the more Dalmatians following your carriage, the wealthier people thought you were.
They were also quite good at standing guard when people were sleeping, protecting peoples horses and belongings.
When the fire department left the station en route to a fire, the Dalmatians were the first out the door, barking at people in the road to move them to safety. Once the wagon was in the road and rolling to the fire, the dogs would make sure the wagon never had to stop for pedestrians. Dalmatians were the first sirens.
Once they arrived, there was still the matter of the fire and how the horses reacted to it. Often terribly, fire is scary for animals, but the presence of the Dalmatians would ease the stress of the situation on the horses. Guarding the wagon was another job they had once the fire department arrived, can you imagine that people would steal from the guys trying to save lives? Well, they wouldn’t with these guys around.
When everyone was at the fire station, waiting for a fire, the dogs were trained to kill rats that inhabited the stations.
Just because the combustion engine was invented (and the siren too) doesn’t mean Dalmatian became obsolete. Quite the opposite actually, the Dalmatian is almost the stereotypical symbol of firefighters everywhere and helps firefighters explain fire safety.
Instead of rushing and clearing the way en route to fires, Dalmatians are working to prevent fires. According to a firefighting bear, thats where you want to start.