Dalmatian dogs are often seen as mascots for a fire station. They are pictured in children’s books and movies riding along with firefighters on a call, or hanging out at the station like one of the guys. But one Brooklyn fire department has a mascot of a whole different species.
Brooklyn’s Engine Company 239 firemen have adopted Penny the Fire Pig (also known as Fire Pig Penny) as their unofficial mascot. Penny’s human, Darren Harris, is a firefighter at the station.
Adopting the pig has totally changed the lives of the firefighters at the station, with the entire firehouse even banning cooking pig products like bacon and ham in their kitchen. Keep reading for the full story of Penny.
Firemen adopted Penny the Fire Pig as their unofficial mascot.
Fireman Darren Harris adopted Penny in 2021 from a farm in Virginia as a pet for his daughter, The New York Times reported. Harris told The Times that he wanted to get his daughter, Aspen, a pet she could be responsible for taking care of. She was afraid of dogs, but liked pigs because of the cartoon series Peppa Pig.
Not long after Harris adopted Penny, he started taking her to work with him at the fire station. She became a hit with Harris’ fellow firefighters, as well as the neighborhood they serve.
“I knew she would be a breath of fresh air at work and home,” Harris told Brooklyn Paper in 2021. “When I first brought her to work, all the guys immediately loved her and accepted her as part of the house. They FaceTimed their families, showing our new addition.”
Neighborhood kids often visit the station to get a picture of Penny with the fire truck, reports The Times. “Kids passing by, they love seeing the pig,” firefighter Sean Mulligan told the newspaper.
Penny has also become a social media star, with tens of thousands of followers on her @firepigpenny Instagram page. She has even been on television around the world. One of her Instagram followers from Hungary commented that she saw Penny on a Hungarian television station.
The firemen stopped eating pork at the firehouse after adopting their pig mascot.
Penny’s presence at the firehouse has also helped change what the firefighters eat at the station. Pork is no longer on the menu, Harris told The New York Times.
“We didn’t even eat that much pork, to begin with,” Harris told Brooklyn Paper. “But when we got Penny, we were like, ‘we can’t, it’s just wrong, we can’t.'”
Fire Pig Penny is smarter than any dog.
Although many people may believe pigs are dirty animals, Penny’s firefighter friends said she is actually pretty clean. She’s also smarter and easier to train than any dog, the firefighters said.
“Penny’s as smart as a 4-year-old or 5-year-old,” Harris said in a TikTok video posted by Calla Kessler. He said that Penny also serves as an “emotional support animal” for the station.
Unlike a Dalmatian mascot, Penny doesn’t go out on calls with the firefighters. Instead, she gets to rest in her carrier while the firefighters go out on a call, as per The New York Times. When she’s not at the station, she enjoys chillaxing on the deck at Harris’ home in Middletown, N.Y.