The Dubuque Fire Pipes & Drums was organized in August 2009, when a group of firefighters sought to start in Dubuque the long-standing tradition of the bagpipe honor band.
This tradition started in the early 1800s, with the mass migration of Irish to the United States during the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. Employment for the Irish immigrants was not easy to come by, and the jobs that were available were often the dirty and dangerous. A good portion of these jobs were in firefighting and law-enforcement. It was not uncommon for firefighters to die in the line of duty. At the funerals of the fallen Irish-American firefighters, as was the case with most Irish funerals, the bagpipes were played. Not long after this tradition began, non-Irish firefighters requested the playing of pipes at their funerals.
The Dubuque Fire Pipes & Drums are an honor band in this rich tradition. We honor our fallen, whether firefighters, law-enforcement, or service members. We play in service.
It is also our intent to encourage engagement with the history and heritage of the Scotland and Ireland and the Fire Service. Toward this goal, we play in parades and events in the Tri-State area, including the Dubuque Irish Hooley.
Our band started with five interested firefighters from the Dubuque, Iowa, area, including an Assistant Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, Medical Officers, and Pipemen. Today, the band is comprised of firefighters, police officers, and civilians.
What People Say
“Wail, wail, screech, wail, honk, honk, squeak went the bagpipes, increasing the captain’s already considerable pleasure at the thought that any moment now they might stop.”Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe