The El Paso Firefighters Pipes and Drums is a fire-service bagpipe and drum band made up of firefighters and emergency medical technicians in the El Paso Texas region. Formed in May 2015 by members of the El Paso Fire Department, its goal is to bring together members of departments throughout the region to honor public safety and military members, promote the traditions of the fire service, and to teach bagpipes and highland drums. The band’s performances have included:
- Firefighter and police officer line of duty deaths
- Retired firefighter funerals
- Fallen firefighter, police officer, and detention officer memorials
- U.S. Army Sergeant Major’s Academy memorial ceremony
- Congressional town hall meeting
- El Paso Chihuahuas AAA baseball team Hero’s Night
- Muscular Dystrophy Association boot drive kickoff
- Training Academy graduations for El Paso and Las Cruces Fire Departments
- Thanksgiving and Easter parades
EPFFPD has adopted Clan Wallace tartan to represent fire service traditions and values that has existed in El Paso for over 130 years.
Yellow represents service (seirbheis in Scottish Gaelic). A firefighter serves with loyalty to their company, their department, and the citizens they are sworn protect.
Black represents honor (onair in Scottish Gaelic). We serve with honor. We give honor to our brothers and sisters of the badge that have fallen. When a fire fighter dies in the line of duty a black band is worn across the badge of each firefighter to honor the fallen.
Red represents tradition (tradaisean in Scottish Gaelic). It is the traditional color of the fire service. Firefighters must act with courage tempered with wisdom to ensure the safety and protection of the public and one another.
The band crest is a Maltese cross, the traditional symbol of the fire service, with a gold border and Wallace tartan fill. The red belt, in the style of a clan crest, represents the unity of the fire service. This surrounds a bagpiper which represents the tradition of highland piping and drumming. The mountains with the star are El Paso’s Franklin Mountains, representing our community. The star on the mountain has been an El Paso landmark since 1940 and remains lit each night. The band name surrounds the cross in a Harrington font. Crossed drum sticks complete the circle of text, a symbol of the drum’s support in completing the sound of the band.
The History of the Bagpipes in the Fire Service
“The tradition of bagpipes being played at fire department funerals in the United States goes back over one hundred and fifty years. When the Irish and Scottish immigrated to this country, they brought many of their traditions with them. One of these was the bagpipe, often played at Celtic weddings, funerals and dances. It wasn’t until the great potato famine and massive Irish immigration to the East Coast of the United States that the tradition of the pipes really took hold in fire departments. Factories and shops had signs reading “NINA” meaning No Irish Need Apply. The only jobs they could get were the ones no one else wanted — jobs that were dirty, dangerous or both — firefighters and police officers. It was not an uncommon event to have several firefighters killed at a working fire. The Irish firefighter’s funerals were typical of all Irish funerals-the pipes were played. It was somehow okay for a hardened firefighter to cry at the sound of pipes when his dignity would not let him weep for a fallen comrade. Those who have been to funerals when bagpipes play know how haunting and mournful the sound of the pipes can be. Before too long, families and friends of non-Irish firefighters began asking for the piper to play for these fallen heroes. The pipes add a special air and dignity to the solemn occasion. Today, the tradition is universal and not just for the Irish or Scottish. The pipes have come to be a distinguishing feature of a fallen hero’s funeral.” Ohio Fire Chief, July 1997