The Detroit Fire Department Band
has been a part of the Detroit Fire Department
family since 1920.
About the Band
The Band is made up of both fire department members and civilians. We appear at various civic affairs, parades, Memorial Day services, Firemen’s Field Days, and have taken on the sad duty of playing at Firefighters’ funerals.
The band is looking for new members. There is an open invitation for anyone interested to join us to be part of a long standing tradition in the Detroit Fire Department. Civilians, members of other departments, everyone who has the desire is welcomed. We are in special need of horn players. Note: We do not incorporate guitars or keyboards into the band. For more information call our band manager (Retired Chief Bob Alef) at 586-596-7689 .
We appear at various locations throughout the year. Our long standing appearances include:
- Detroit Firemen’s Fund Memorial Day Ceremonies
- Firemen’s Field Day
- Breakfast with the Detroit Fire Department
- Firemen’s Fund General Membership Meeting
- Detroit St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The Detroit Fire Department Band was organized by Captain Anthony Delesie, Glen Middledatch, Otto Klatt (all of Rescue 1), and a fourth unidentified man from another fire company. Their first public appearance was marching in the Armistice Day Parade.
By 1926 the band had grown to 44 men. For three years the band gave concerts on WJR radio. They were very popular and drew thousands of fan letters from throughout the country. One of the biggest honor the band received came in 1926 when they were selected to escort John Phillip Sousa from the train depot to Orchestra Hall. Sousa highly praised the band on its fine appearance and playing ability.
In addition to the larger band, a few small groups were also formed. In 1958 Bob Engel and his Five Alarms was formed to play dance music at mixed retirement parties. (A mixed party is a party that includes spouses, stag party would be limited to department members). This group was still active in 1977, although Bob Engel had retired by that time. It is not clear how long after 77 they disbanded.
In 1964 a German Band was formed to play at stag parties and civic events. Eventually the group was renamed the Red Shirt Band, and as of 1977 was still active. Again it is uncertain when they stopped playing together.
This clip, from the movie BURN, features the band on Memorial Day 2011.