northern VA firefighters PB
The band was formed in late 1983 as an off shoot of the Fairfax County Firefighter’s Emerald Society which was originally organized in April of 1983. The goal was to emulate the FDNY Emerald Society, that of having a Pipe Band component to the social organization. Bill Schumm, President of the Emerald Society, and Ed Snyder, a member, met with John D. “Zim” Zimmerman to learn what was involved with starting a pipe band. “Zim” was, at the time, the Drum Major for the Washington Scottish Pipe Band A.K.A. The Saint Andrews Society Pipes and Drums. Zim believed in our cause and became the Drum Major for the new band. He also taught bass drumming, how to march, attack tunes and how to properly wear the uniform.
May 5, 1983 — We held our first practice with a summer break for July and August and then back at it weekly starting up again on September 8,1983.
March 10, 1984 — Manned with 9 pipers, 6 drummers and one Drum Major, we took to the streets and marched in our first event which was the City of Alexandria Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. We only had three tunes ‘performance ready’ – Let Erin Remember, Bonnie Charlie, Minstrel Boy – so we played those three over and over again the entire parade route. This group of tunes are still played today and is lovingly called the ‘First Set’. We also still march this parade every year as it has become one of our favorites and play the First Set while doing it….with other tunes too of course!!
The original name of the band was Firefighters’ Emerald Society Pipe Band. We chose this name so that firefighters from other jurisdictions would not feel excluded from joining. We wanted to be inclusive of the Fire Service in the region.
In 2010 the band applied for and received its 501(c)3 status as a non-profit organization. This was an important event for us as the band’s budget is comprised mainly of donations and sales of band merchandise such as t-shirts, challenge coins, etc. By receiving this status it allowed the band to participate in more events and accept more donations that all go towards uniforms and instruments.
We often get asked the question, “Whats the deal with the solid kilts? And why are they mustard color?” Well, for starters the color is called ‘Saffron’ and its not even yellow (actually its part of the orange family).
Irish kilts (for the most part) are different from their Scottish counterparts as they are solid/one color as opposed to the familiar plaid, or tartan, of a Scottish kilt. The solid one color is generally a dark green or a Saffron which we have chosen. The reason for this choice is that our dress uniforms are modeled after the Royal Irish Rangers who wore Saffron kilts.
Today the band consists of not only firefighters but also civilians who wish to support the firefighter family. We perform at firefighter recruit graduations, promotion ceremonies, retirement ceremonies and sadly at funerals for our fallen brothers and sisters as well as local parades and anywhere else we might be requested. We are also the lead band for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Weekend held annually at National Training Academy in Emmitsburg, MD to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the line of duty.