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I was recently in class in the SC State Fire Academy and one of the speakers, an employee/instructor of the Fire Academy no less, made a comment about something being the decision of the one with the most bugles on his collar.  I have been enraged ever since!!  they are Speaking Trumpets!!  I wanted to yell across the auditorium to set him straight.
Are any of you this insane about details of our traditions or have I lost it?

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Reply by Ron Becknell 14 minutes ago

Actually the term Fire Plug dates back to before hydrants.

 

Of course it does. I assumed that everyone knows the history of the term. (One should learn this in rookie school.) The point of this topic appears to be accuracy or tradition of terminology. What argument are we making here? If we are going to (ridiculously) argue over terms we will need to pick our criteria.

If we choose to argue for accuracy, and agree to not call the rank symbols bugles, can we really call them trumpets? (Aren't trumpets and bugles the same thing, except trumpets have valves?)

I was just giving an example of inaccuracy or terms. If our criteria is accuracy then we can't call a hydrant a plug.

Are we going for tradition or accuracy? I contend that the rank symbols have possibly been called bugles for as long as they have been called anything else.

Can you also call them "speaking trumpets" or megaphones? Sure go ahead.

I am FOR tradition. The question before us is, "Is 'bugle' a common traditional term for the rank symbol?"

Since it is all I have heard in my 30+ years and we have a captain who is celebrating 55 years on the department and it is all he has ever heard from the guys before him, and I know multi-generation fire families who use the term "bugle", I am going with that.

BTW I once had a training chief (in 1980) who would correct you if you called a fire hydrant a plug. He is/was correct but what is the tradition and why worry about it? (And HE still called them BUGLES!)

 

What are we going to argue over next? Is it a "Pro Tool", "Hoolligan", or "Halligan"?  Does it matter? Of course not. But I am sure there are those who have a different opinion.

Point taken, I was not arguing over any of it, the point is they are NOT learning this in rookie school.  I think that if hte bugle was explained that it related to the ampliflication of one's voice and not a musical instrument as is suggested in the term that would be better.  Of all the books I have read about the history of the Fire Service, I have never read, seen heard anything that suggested the fire service ever used bugles (the musical instrument) on the fire ground.  However I have seen numerous examples of "speaking trumpets" not trumpets as in the musical instrument.  The speaking trumpets were very similar to what we would today call a megaphone, but since they were used prior to the invention of the phone, I doubt that term was used then.  As for the tools, there are differences between a Hooligan and Haligan they function similar look very similar but to someone that knows the tools they would easily recognize the difference.

But yes, I do think that terminology is important, words have meaning and we should attempt to be as accurate and specific as possible when passing on traditions.  If we are not how can we call it tradition?  It would just be our individual interpretation of events from the past.

Bob McGorkic said:

Reply by Ron Becknell 14 minutes ago

Actually the term Fire Plug dates back to before hydrants.

 

Of course it does. I assumed that everyone knows the history of the term. (One should learn this in rookie school.) The point of this topic appears to be accuracy or tradition of terminology. What argument are we making here? If we are going to (ridiculously) argue over terms we will need to pick our criteria.

If we choose to argue for accuracy, and agree to not call the rank symbols bugles, can we really call them trumpets? (Aren't trumpets and bugles the same thing, except trumpets have valves?)

I was just giving an example of inaccuracy or terms. If our criteria is accuracy then we can't call a hydrant a plug.

Are we going for tradition or accuracy? I contend that the rank symbols have possibly been called bugles for as long as they have been called anything else.

Can you also call them "speaking trumpets" or megaphones? Sure go ahead.

I am FOR tradition. The question before us is, "Is 'bugle' a common traditional term for the rank symbol?"

Since it is all I have heard in my 30+ years and we have a captain who is celebrating 55 years on the department and it is all he has ever heard from the guys before him, and I know multi-generation fire families who use the term "bugle", I am going with that.

BTW I once had a training chief (in 1980) who would correct you if you called a fire hydrant a plug. He is/was correct but what is the tradition and why worry about it? (And HE still called them BUGLES!)

 

What are we going to argue over next? Is it a "Pro Tool", "Hoolligan", or "Halligan"?  Does it matter? Of course not. But I am sure there are those who have a different opinion.


FYI

The International Assn Of Fire Chiefs refer to their corporate involvement program as “Bugle Partners”.

http://www.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=1241

And they rate corporate contribution levels as 1-5 "bugles".

http://www.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=119

Honestly, it is difficult to find these symbols not referred to as bugles.

http://www.thefind.com/crafts/info-crossed-bugles

http://www.code3tactical.com/rank-insignia---5-x-bugles.aspx

http://www.tacticalsupply.com/catalog/2_136_225_242/heros-pride-fir...

http://www.code3tactical.com/rank-insignia.aspx

Does this mean that the term isn’t some goofy firefighter’s idea that just caught on? Of course not. But that is how traditional terms are born.

If you want to fix weird traditions you can look at things like “wet down” ceremonies when the apparatus is pushed out. Why should departments who never had horses have to observe horse based traditions? Why should departments who aren’t Chicago observe a red and green light tradition?  People (especially FF’s) invent traditions all the time. There is an effort right now to ascribe a meaning to each of the five bugles used in rank emblems. In ten years rookies might believe that this is a tradition that has been around forever.

You could drive yourself crazy trying to fix all the terms and expressions in the fire service (on in English for that matter).

Of all the debatable “traditions” out there, the use of the term “bugle” is nothing. One can easily make a case that the term has possibly been around for 100’s of years and has possibly valid etymological roots.

Do you want to make people crazy? I would never argue such a thing, but if you want to get technical, our symbol is not a “Maltese” Cross. One could make the argument that it has been changed too much (if it every was). It is now probably a “Cross Pattee Nowy" (or Patee Nowee) by heraldry definition. The Maltese Cross also hasn’t been a symbol of the fire service forever. The first recorded use of anything similar to it, to represent the fire service was FDNY in 1865. Brooklyn adopted it in 1882.  The term “bugle” might even be older.

Information on “The Maltese Cross: Legend or Myth?” By Gary Urbanowicz

http://web.archive.org/web/20050820022352/http://hometown.aol.com/g...

In his book, I think Gary Urbanowicz suggests that the cross came from military symbols when fire companies returned from the civil war. It might have little or nothing to do with the “brave” Knights of Malta and the story you see on websites everywhere.

More information: http://www.fireserviceinfo.com/maltesecross.html

A real "Maltese Cross" is shown below. Does it resemble the U.S. Fire service emblem?

see: http://www.orderofmalta.org/?lang=en

My point is, do you still want to worry about the semantics of calling something a "bugle" vs. a "trumpet"? Now that you have been enlightened, are you going to be "enraged" and now tempted to "yell across the auditorium" to correct someone when they say "Maltese" Cross? I know I wouldn't.

Reply by Ron Becknell

As for the tools, there are differences between a Hooligan and Haligan they function similar look very similar but to someone that knows the tools they would easily recognize the difference.

 

Really?  I challenge you to do a Google images search of the two terms. Not only will get the hundreds of the same pictures, but even manufacturers will show you the same thing. (Add Pro Tool to the search, if you dare.)

Perhaps these are different tools in your world. (And I don't mean that in a bad way. It is just that every department or region is it's own world.) But there is not a universal fire service difference in these two tools. The same can be said for just about any "traditional" term.

There might be slight differences it designs of Halligans. Perhaps the claw is slightly different, but they are all called the same thing.  If you purchase a "pro-tool" in Miami, and take it to Chicago FD, guess what they will call it.

Here are two last, completely true, examples of why it is difficult to pin down or argue over  traditional fire service terms, that you will not believe.

In North Texas, what you would probably call a hose "Dutchman" is referred to as a "Fort Worth". Don't ask me why, but this has probably been true for over 100 years in probably dozens of different regional departments. When they are loading hose you will hear, "Put a Fort Worth in it!" Crazy, huh? To them it is a TRADITION to call it this. It is hard to argue that it is not since it has been that way for generations.

There is a fire department in upstate NY that insists that all hose crosslays should be called "Mattydale loads". It doesn't matter if you use a flat load, minuteman load, accordion load or whatever. To them, these are all forms of a Mattydale load that a chief there invented, and they want to you to acknowledge this and it should be a universal fire service term.
see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattydale_lay

 

 

Hmmm... You say "I wanted to yell". Why don't you? Perhaps because my father was high rank officier and my wife is one too, but I'm not afraid of people saying they are instructors and in fact, only now a few thinks. So, if I want ton yell... I yell.

:-)

Best regards

Pierre-Louis

I've always heard them called bugles, but it's probably and east coast verses west coast thing.  In history, it's been proven above that the words are interchangable.  Not sure why so much hostility needs to wasted on it.  I think better use can be found for this energy.  As long as they aren't called plungers, or something else not referencing the megaphones used. 

I could not agree more. I wish I could have been as succinct as you were.

(I am sure everyone else probably wishes so too.)

 

 

I checked on the picture of a speaking trumpet and that is what is on my Collar Brass.

 

I have been told they are "bugles" however looking at the pics they are clearly "speaking trumpets."  As such, I will make the correction when I tell others what they are. 

 

I was also told the story of the Maltese Cross as being from Malta, however when I researched it farther I found that the original cross was more similar to the Iron Cross used by the German Army (like the picture posted earlier) and traced the roots back to the symbols used in the military.  Honestly, I am hesitant that the Iron Cross would be welcomed as much as the Maltese Cross has been due to the history.

 

I agree that we must maintain traditions, and rank symbols is a tradition that should be maintained.  We all know at least (1) tradition that should be changed. 

 

Thanks for the conversation stimulator.....  Oh, and my .02 is that you must be losing it, because I would have simply walked over to him and advised him other wise.  No yelling, no drama, using tact, would have given him an option to correct his information and provided him with some additional knowledge in this area.

I understand but as long as the fire service has been around we have had different terms for devises we use based on geographical location or even just traditions in different departments. Your "Speaking Trumpets" are my "bugles" and another's "bull horns". I have herd all three and most common is bugles. So don"t start yelling yet and com at these mixing of terms as the charter that makes up so much of our history.
I understand the h*** bugle thang.  But this is something that is erned, not just given.  But that is the problem in todays fire service.  We promote people on the good old boy system.  That sucks.  When you get bugles you should have be given them for your knowledge and skills in the service.  As far as for the decision being the one with the most bugles, that is not true.  i ubderstand thatthe chief has the final say, but we must take in to conceration everyone.  There are pleanty of firefighters out there that dont have bugles but are the best of the best.  i would listen to them in a heart beat.  Who care about the bugles.

OK. As much as I hate to address this comment.

Todd,

1. Your comment belongs on a different topic. This topic is about tradition, terminology and semantics. Your comment appears to be about leadership or promotion practices.

2. It also appears to express some bitterness that you should address in some healthy constructive way, if possible. Perhaps you can find a forum that will help you with your concerns.

3. Your assertion that people are promoted by the "good old boy" system is inaccurate in most (or at least many) modern fire departments. People are often promoted by either written exams or assessment centers. If you ARE one of those unfortunate firefighters who serves in a department (or state) where people are hired, fired, promoted or demoted at the pleasure of the chief, you have my sympathy. There are things you can do, such as adopt civil service, but I know that you probably live in fear of your job if you even brought it up. My point is still that the situation you describe is not the norm. It is far from being "the problem in today's fire service."

4. If you used your real name with this post, posting negative comments on a forum is not the the path to promotion. Everything you say, and how well you say it, will be here for someone to find, FOREVER.

3. Work on your writing skills. This is something you will need either to get promoted or when you are promoted. Try to think of every email, text, or even forum post as something that represents your communication skills. I am sure your will agree that this is an important ability for an officer.

Let us not waste other people's time by continuing to discuss this here. However, if you either find a topic about your situation, or start one, please let me know and I will be happy to join it.

You know, honestly, I had never really paid attention to the bugles thing. Wow, but now that you mention it, yeah, it does kind of sound stupid. Especially since they were never, ever called bugles, they were speaking trumpets. The one thing that just irritates the crap out of me are firefighters, mostly newer guys, that don't differentiate between an engine and a truck. They call all apparatus fire trucks. I can't stand that, even my 3 year old, at the time, could tell you the difference between a truck and an engine, the truck had the big ladder on it and the engine didn't. But by God, they can tell you what temperature a spark from static electricity is, haha.

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