When an article in a New York City newspaper was brought to the attention of Hamilton Fire Chief Alex Aitchison neither his nor his men were very pleased. The men of the Victoria Avenue station, in particular, took what was claimed in the article as a challenge
The offensive claim was that, in a trial, the New York Fire Department received a fire call, hitched horses to a wagon, and it was out the fire station door in world record time:
“Chief Aitchison determined that New York’s triumph should be short.
“A large number of ladies and gentlemen gathered at the Victoria avenue engine house in the afternoon. After a few preliminary trials, in order to get things in good working order, the chief announced:
“ ‘Now, here goes for smashing the record.’
“Bang ! sounded the gong, the stall doors flew open, the horses bounded to their places; there was a brief fusillade of clinks, as the snaps were fastened, the men jumped clear, and the fire chief sounded, ‘Ready!’
“ ‘What was the time? Demanded everybody of the gentleman, who was holding a delicately-regulated and accurate track timer. He looked up, smiled; took another look at the watch to make sure there was no mistake, and answered:
‘ ‘Precisely one second and a half.’ ”1
1 “The Record Broken : The Victoria Avenue Fire Boys Hitch in a Second and a Half”
Hamilton Spectator. November 13, 1885.