Reflecting the Tradition, Honor and Prideof the over 200 year old Newark Fire Department, the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band was founded in December of 2003.
The pipe band’s mission is to give recognition to the accomplishments of “Newark’s Bravest,” the heroic firefighters and fire officers of Newark.
Fireman Donald Gilmartin considered organizing the pipe band for many years and in 2003 the time was right to turn his ideas into reality. “Many firemen died through the years. We did it out of respect for the deceased,” he said. “We want to send our heroes off as they deserve to be sent off.”
Gilmartin put the word out, firefighters responded and the only all city fire department band in the State of New Jersey, the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band, was established. This band is unique in that it is a mix of ethnic groups, not just the Irish. Membership in the band is open only to active or retired Newark firefighters.
The Newark Firefighters Pipe Band quickly established itself as a well-respected, 32-member pipe band. It started with 10 pipers and six drummers. As firefighters were inspired by the music, new fire department members and retirees joined to be part of the band’s unique experience. Today, the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band has expanded to 15 pipers, 17 in the drum line and a drum major. Membership is growing. Over 80 percent of the men who initially joined the band and learned to play have become kilted and continue to march to this day. As Gilmartin said, “This is an astonishing accomplishment. These firefighters donate an incredible amount of their time despite their hectic schedules and on-going responsibilities.”
The Newark Firefighters Pipe Band has marched in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Newark , Hoboken , Belmar, West Orange, South Amboy, Seaside Heights and Union, as well as Puerto Rican Day parades in Newark and New York City . The band has also performed at Memorial Day parades in Carteret, Cedar Grove and Franklin Lakes and entertained youngsters at the Spring Valley (NY) Muscular Dystrophy Camp.
Members of the band wear full dress uniforms of Ramsay red (ancient) kilts, black tunics with silver trim, Ramsay red plaids, military style cast top sporrans with shamrocks, feather bonnets, black hose with red flashes and white spats. Alternate selections include Glenn Garry hats with red hackles and dark navy blue long-sleeve or white short-sleeve shirts.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2009 the band brought the luck of the Irish to the NJ Devils who played the Chicago Black Hawks at the Prudential Center , “The Rock” in Newark , NJ . Not only did they entertain the crowd on the main concourse before the game and during the intermissions, they also witnessed history as Martin Brodeur set the NHL record with his 552 nd win.
The Newark Firefighters Pipe Band would like to thank its pipes and drums instructors:
- Scott Sim, Pipe Instructor, Essex County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums
- John Bradley, Pipe Instructor, Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums
- Matty Glackin, Pipe Instructor, St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band
- Bob Wade, Pipe Instructor, St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band
- Ed McNanny, Drum Instructor, Essex County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums
- Patrick McKerry, Drum Instructor, County Monaghan Pipe Band
The Newark Firefighters Pipe Band would also like to thank Robert Lynch, owner of Kilkenny Alehouse located at 27 Central Ave, Newark, New Jersey, for providing the band with a place to practice and to call our “home”.
The band is self supporting, nonprofit. It relies on proceeds from fundraisers and parades to meet its expenses.