Dalmatian is fire department mascot

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 30, 2000

Fire inspector Leslie Decareaux gets a kiss from dalmatian mascot Nicki at Central Fire Station Thursday. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

Nicki doesn’t do much to put out fires, but the Vicksburg fireman does have a liking for hydrants.

The 4-year-old dalmatian has spent most of his life as a mascot for the Vicksburg Fire Department, and was given his own badge last week during a fire prevention program, said Leslie Decareaux, fire inspector for VFD.

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“Nicki is a sweetheart and the kids really love him,” she said. “This is the first dog we have had and it is a great situation.”

Wally Flowers, Nicki’s owner, rescued the black-and-white speckled dog from the Vicksburg Warren Humane Society.

“I just happened to be out there and I saw him,” Flowers said. “I went home and told my wife about him and the rest is history.”

Flowers said he ran into Decareaux at a meeting and the idea to use Nicki as the VFD mascot was born.

“She had a program coming up that involved children and she knew I had Nicki, so that’s how we started,” Flowers said. “I have raised him and I am really proud of him. Plus he is like a part of the family.”

Decareaux said she takes Nicki along to programs several times a year.

“This will be his fourth year riding in the fire truck during the Christmas parade,” she said.

Dalmatians are a breed long associated with bright red fire engines. In the early 1900s, they ran beside the horses that pulled fire engines to keep them calm.

“They (dalmatians) would stay in the stables with horses as their companions,” Decareaux said.

The spotted animals were also used to guard the fire equipment.

“They would scare off people that would come around and try to steal the horses or the equipment,” Decareaux said.

Capts. Erron Flowers and Mark Hales, who both work at Central Fire Station on Walnut Street, said they love having Nicki around.

“He really fulfills that whole scene of a fire station,” Flowers said. “He is a real fixture around here.”

Hales agreed that Nicki brightens up the fire station. “I wish we could keep him all the time.”