Sacramento has a long history of music in the fire service.
Dating back to the late 1800's, the Sacramento Firemen's Band provided entertainment to the area as well as opening for local civic events. The original Sacramento Firemen's Band was a "big band" with brass section, woodwinds, and a drum core.
The Firemen's Band continued providing entertainment through the 1950's, however like so many great things, faded into the history books with little info about it.
Fast forward to 2003.
In May, 2003, two Sacramento Fire Department firefighters, Tom Rogers and Mark Swink, were learning to play the bagpipes. Though just on their chanters, they persuaded the department administration to support them in their effort to start a pipes and drums band.
Mark and Tom put out an invitation to all department personnel from the newest firefighter to chiefs and in a couple of months had 15 fire fighters attending the first practices of the newly established Sacramento Fire Department Pipes and Drums Band (SFDPD).
The Sacramento Fire Department provided the band with a classroom at their J street training facility once a week. The department supported the band members with time out of the fire house for practice, and gave us space at "the grinder", part of the training facility at McClellan Park, for drumming instruction as well as band practice when the J street facility was unavailable. Even our department chiefs association donated a base drum to the band to show their support.
Tom and Mark also set the band up as a non-profit. This effort would prove invaluable in time.
In six short months, the band was performing at its first event. The Elk Grove Fire Protection District requested us to play for their academy graduation and promotional ceremony. The event went well, and set the stage for our band to perform for all of the local public safety agencies.
The band held steady for almost three years with very little change in personnel but a big jump in the number of events performed. We became the "go to" pipes and drums band for the greater Sacramento area for ALL public safety agencies. We were performing at, or opening for, academy graduations, funerals, conferences, and VIP events for not only our department but Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento Sheriffs Office, Roseville Fire Department, California Highway Patrol in the Sacramento area, West Sacramento Fire Department, Elk Grove C.S.D., as well as numerous visiting agencies.
In early 2007, after much discussion, the band membership voted to create a regional band and invite fire fighters from all local fire agencies. We put out the call to our neighboring departments for any one interested in learning to drum or play the bagpipes to come out and get started.
We now also have members from Sacramento Fire Department, Sacramento Metro Fire Department, El Dorado County Fire, Cosumnes Fire Dept., Elk Grove P.D., Contra Costa FPD, Berkley FD, and Hayward FD . The future is exciting and the tradition will live on.