Band in Puerto Rico
On December 11, 2009, the Orlando Firefighters Pipes and Drums did
something that no other firefighter Pipes and Drums band has ever done.
As a request from the government of the Puerto Rico, The OFP&D was asked
to play for the graduation of 58 new firefighter/paramedics for the the
newly formed San Juan Fire Rescue department. The band was brought on a
covert mission from the Fire Chief and Mayor of San Juan as a surprise
for their newly assigned firefighters after completing the fire academy.
We were told if asked, that we were instructors brought in to help teach
a firefighter training class, as to not let anyone know that a Pipes and
Drums band was brought in to surprise the graduating firefighters.
The graduation was held in the historic Teatro Tapia, the oldest
freestanding theater stage building that is still in use in the United
States. This theater, which was built in 1824 has never, in all its
years, had ever had a bagpipe and drum band perform within its walls
until this day. This venue, which houses roughly 700 people, was the
location for the Inaugural graduation ceremony for the City of San Juan
Fire Rescue Department.
After the opening statements, singing of the national anthem, presenting
of the colors, and opening remarks, the time for the band to perform had
come. Members of the Pipes and Drums broke the secrecy as they played
Amazing Grace in a darkened out theater, first beginning with a solo
piper, and then having the entire band join in to help remember those
fallen firefighters that have died in the performance of their duties.
The members were brought out on the stage after the graduation
certificates were distributed to be thanked by the Mayor, and the Fire
Department. The response from the crowd was incredible. At the end of
the ceremony, the OFP&D marched out San Juan's Bravest out to the street
in front of the theater. After the graduation, Mayor Jorge Santini
decided that a parade from the theater to the Mayor's office in Old San
Juan was in order. The Orlando Firefighters Pipes and Drums proudly
marched with the Mayor, Fire Chief Carlos Acevedo Caballero, the honor
guard, the new firefighters their friends and family through the streets
of Old San Juan to the mayor's headquarters.
It was quite an honor for the members of the Orlando Firefighters Pipes
and Drums to be a part of this very historical, and important event. Our
brother and sister firefighters to the south have embraced the American
Fire Service, and its traditions and history, and have vowed to keep our
Fire Service Traditions alive within their department.
Pipe Major Mike Stalling with Mayor of San Juan Jorge Santini (left)
and Fire Chief Carlos Acevedo Caballero (right)
In the summer of 2005, 10
members of the Orlando Fire Department made the commitment to put
together a bagpipe and drums band. At this point in time, OFD only
had one member that played the pipes, that was District Chief Mark
Austin who had 9 years of playing under his belt. These 10 members
made a pact that they would play their first gig in 2005, the 120th
anniversary of the Orlando Fire Department. The 2005 Citrus Bowl
Parade was the targeted event that would become our first ever gig. With
this event agreed upon, the Orlando Firefighters Pipes and Drums (OFP&D)
On December 30, 2005, the
pipes and drums marched in with uniformed members of the City of
Orlando Fire Department
, and the reception that was received was incredible.
The original members of the OFP&D that marched in that historical first gig
Pipers: Scott Hammond, D/C Mark Austin,
Walt Lewis, Mike Stallings, Drummers:
Al Castanon (Bass),
Matt Negedly , Jason Revoldt,
Derek Schaumann (Snares).
The OFP&D would
like to thank fellow bagpipers and drummers from the LEESCF, Rosie
O’Grady’s Highlanders, Tampa Bay Fire Pipes and Drums, Palm Beach County
Fire Rescue Pipes and Drums, the City of Melbourne Pipe Band, OPD officer Pete
Linnenkamp, and bagpipe legend Jaime Holton of Off Kilter, for
their support and commitment to helping a group of tone-deaf
firefighters become struggling musicians.