Archive for Philadelphia

Heritage

Posted in 2012, Around Town, Our Heros, The Big Chili Cook-Off, Who Gets This Whole Thing Going with tags , , , , , , , , , on 04-25-2012 by thebigchilicookoffevergreen

When the first American organized volunteer fire department was established in Philadelphia in 1736 it was made up of prominent business men and civic leaders, and at its helm was someone you might have heard of – Benjamin Franklin. He started the Union Fire Company, an all volunteer regiment, as a service to the community and it soon became the duty and privilege of the local male citizenry to participate in its efforts. Fire was the premier enemy of townships and cities in 1736 and Franklin’s foresight started a trend that has lasted literally for centuries. The mountain community volunteer firefighters remind me of what I imagine the early Philadelphia days to be. In many cities firefighting has become the responsibility of people who simply need a job. It’s not that their commitment or contribution is any less, but there is something about people who leave their work, or their businesses or their beds at night to fight a fire – without a paycheck  – that borders on noble. The fact that many of our most prominent citizens have been a part of this effort means even more. A society can be judged by what it gives without thought of remuneration, without counting the cost. The selfless energies of the mountain area volunteer firefighters speak well of who we are and how we live. I have to think that Ben would be proud of what he created and all that it is today. What started out as an exercise in human dignity and sense of community, hasn’t changed and hopefully never will.

Citizen Ben

Posted in 2011, Around Town, Our Heros, The Big Chili Cook-Off, USA with tags , , , , , on 04-28-2011 by thebigchilicookoffevergreen

In 18th Century America, most houses were built of wood and heated by open hearths and fireplaces. The danger of fire raging throughout a town or city was constant. Fire was a real and present enemy, a bit like it is for those of us living in mountain communities. We’ve all seen the fire ban signs alongside the roads. We all understand the danger, and therefore strive to be careful. Thankfully, we have volunteer fire departments that efficiently and consistently fight this enemy.

Benjamin Franklin, who incorporated the first organized volunteer fire brigade – The Union Fire Company – was motivated by seeing this enemy first-hand.  Growing up in Boston, Ben witnessed several fires, one that destroyed the homes of 110 families.  As an adult, he lived in Philadelphia and owned The Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper in which he frequently wrote about the need for organized fire protection in the city. After a major fire in 1736, he organized the brigade with thirty volunteers, a man named Isaac Paschall being the first to sign on. The company members themselves paid for leather buckets, wall hooks and ladders, and carried these items by hand to each fire.

Although firefighting has evolved over the years, the founding principles of that first brigade remain the same: “Pride – Honor – Dedication”. To Ben, Isaac, and all our local, present-day volunteers – we can never thank you enough.

Spreading Like Wildfire

Posted in 2011, Around Town, Our Heros, The Big Chili Cook-Off, Who Gets This Whole Thing Going with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01-04-2011 by thebigchilicookoffevergreen

When the first American organized volunteer fire department was established in Philadelphia in 1736 it was made up of prominent business men and civic leaders, and at its helm was someone you might have heard of – Benjamin Franklin. He started the Union Fire Company, an all volunteer regimen, as a service to the community and it soon became the duty and privilege of the local male citizenry to participate in its efforts. Fire was the premier enemy of townships and cities in 1736 and Franklin’s foresight started a trend that has lasted for literal centuries. The mountain community volunteer firefighters remind me of what I imagine the early Philadelphia days to be. In many cities firefighting has become the responsibility of people who simply need a job, not that their commitment or contribution is any less, but there is something about people who leave their work, or their businesses or their beds at night to fight a fire, without a paycheck that borders on noble, and the fact that many of our most prominent citizens have been a part of this effort means even more. A society can be judged by what it gives without thought of remuneration, without counting the cost. The selfless energies of the mountain area volunteer firefighters speak well of who we are and how we live. I have to think that Ben would be proud of what he created and all that it is today. What started out as an exercise in human dignity and sense of community, hasn’t changed and hopefully never will.