The fire service in the United States has a long and glorious history stretching back to the early 1700s. Even in the early days of the fire service, the mission was the protection of life and property. With this noble desire and calling for a person to help their fellow man, it is easy to understand how this vocation has become an honored profession for over 275 years. Many times the Bible verse from John, Chapter 15:13 is quoted as an example of the conviction of firefighters, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In the early 1900s, Chief Edward Croker of the New York Fire Department eloquently spoke about what it means to be a firefighter. He said:
Our proudest endeavor is to save the lives of men-the work of God Himself. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even at the supreme sacrifice. Such considerations may not strike the average mind, but they are sufficient to fill to the limit our ambition in life and to make us serve the general purpose of human society.
Based on the willing service of so many and the perilous challenges they faced, a strong history and tradition developed over time as part of the profession of firefighting, whether career or volunteer.
Though many significant dates come to mind that contribute to this history and the subsequent traditions, one that comes to mind during May is the recognition of International Firefighters Day on May 4th. The significance of this date and how it came to be, has a special history.