Fire has been a common threat throughout centuries. In the past mostly because houses were made out of wood and that little spark that jumped-off the fireplace could easily make damage to the entire village or city. Later in the time of different raids, attackers would be throwing torches onto buildings, because they knew exactly how much damage the fire can cause. Already during the medieval ages there were fire patrols, most likely on top of castle towers or on the church bell- towers… and when they saw danger was approaching they started playing the trumpets very loud and with a certain tune, to let people know about the potential danger coming their way. Pretty soon those fire patrols became one of the most prominent associations in the villages and towns. One other destination that they needed to look after was a granary – the building was usually located close to the ramparts of the city and built mostly from stone, since inside they kept all the food that the town’s people needed in case fire would erupt. A firefighter usually stood on guard in front of those places as well. When first associations were formed in the early 19th century, in Slovenia – together with beekeepers, volunteer firefighters were among the first ones. And when in numerous towns around Europe we like to say that village could not exist if it didn’t have a church and an inn. Well, in Slovenia you need to add to that combination also a fire department. When travelling through our little country you might notice a house with red painted door and 112 number written on it. Most of this homes are small and they are in different categories depending on how many and what kind of trucks they have.
For most of my life I have been living across the street from a fire brigade house. As a kid I was terrified of Saturday siren that came out loud at noon each time – I used to cry like a little baby and hide away with covered ears. When years passed the siren no longer rings every Saturday – it only rings every first Saturday of the month and it is a test if siren still functions. Our definitely does. The firefighter house next door belongs to the 2nd category. The entrance has two large red doors that have ben modified just recently. Now they are electric and there is no need to open them by hand. There are big 112 numbers written on it. In the front there is also a fresco of St. Florian. He was a Christian holy man, patron saint of chimney sweeps, soap makers and firefighters. His feast day is May 4th. During the persecution of Christians under Diocletian, reports reached Rome that St. Florian was not enforcing prescriptions against Christians in his territory. Aquilinius was sent to investigate. When he ordered Florian to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods, he refused. Florian was sentenced to be burned at stake. Standing on the funeral bonfire he kept challenging the Roman soldiers to light the fire by saying “if you want to know that I am not afraid of your torture, light the fire, and in the name of the Lord I will climb onto it”. The soldiers decided not to burn Florian but instead drowned him in the nearby river. Still today he is mainly portrayed as a fireman, with a bucket of water helping the fire go down. He is very widely venerated in Central Europe. Seeking the sponsorship of a helpful saint was and still is a part of name giving practice in Catholic areas. Peasants regularly used the name, Florian, as one of the given names for at least one of their male children – to secure the saint’s patronage against fire.