International Firefighters Day & the Feast of St. Florian

Today, May 4 is known as International Firefighters’ Day. It is a day to show support for all firefighters worldwide and take the time to remember those who lost their lives or injured while in the line of duty. 

According to the website you can show support by wearing and displaying red and blue ribbons pinned together; red symbolizing fire and blue for water. These colors are know to represent emergency services internationally. Today we also honor EMTs. 

Today is also the feast day of the patron saint for firefighters, St. Florian. Here is a brief history on St. Florian:

Florian was born in the ancient Roman city of Aelium Cetiumin around 250 AD, which is now present-day Sankt Polten, Austria. He joined the Roman Army and advanced the ranks to commander of the Imperial Army in the Roman province of Noricum. One of his many duties was being responsible for organizing fire brigades. Florian organized and trained this elite group of soldiers in their sole duty of fighting fires.

During the time of the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians, Rome received reports that Florian was not enforcing the persecutionof Christians in his territory and thus was sentenced to death by fire.. While standing on the funeral pyre, Florian is said to have challenged the Roman soldiers to light the fire by saying “if you do, I will climb to heaven on the flames”. Apprehensive to his words, instead of burning Florian, they drowned him. His body was later retrieved by Christians and buried at an Augustinian monastery near Lorch.

Saint Florian was adopted as patron saint of Poland after Pope Lucius III consented to the request of King Casimir to send relics of Florian to that country. Soon after, a person was saved from a fire by invoking Saint Florian’s name. Since then, Florian has been invoked against fire and has generally been regarded in most countries as the patron saint of the fire service.

About the Author

 NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website