The volunteer firefighters of Smyrna’s Citizens’ Hose Company No.1 were, indeed, No.1 at the Delaware Volunteer Firemen’s Association Conference parade on September 13 in Dover. Citizens’ Hose took home its fourth straight Governor’s Cup as the best appearing fire company with music.

They did it again.

The volunteer firefighters of Smyrna’s Citizens’ Hose Company No.1 were, indeed, No.1 at the Delaware Volunteer Firemen’s Association Conference parade on September 13 in Dover.

Citizens’ Hose took home its fourth straight Governor’s Cup as the best appearing fire company with music.

With this year’s Governor’s Cup added to the list, Smyrna’s volunteer fire company has now won 14 out of the last 15 cups awarded.

Although the Governor’s Cup is always the most coveted trophy, Citizen’s Hose also pulled in a plethora of other awards this year.

The company took home 12 other prizes from the parade, 11 of which were first place, or “best appearing,” awards.

“There’s a lot of pride in this department to be No.1 at everything we do,” said Fire Chief John Embert III.

That starts with fighting fires and training, and it carries over to parading.

Embert said that basically the whole company marches in the parade. That’s about 140 altogether, including the band and apparatus drivers, he said.

The main preparations begin about a month and a half before the parade. The volunteers start cleaning the equipment and practice their marching.

When it comes to cleaning the fire trucks, it’s not enough to just clean the vehicles themselves. All of the equipment on the trucks also has to be spotless.

“It’s a total team effort,” Embert said. “Member’s wives and girlfriends and kids help out. It’s a big family event. Everyone chips in.”

Each year, when the time for the parade is near, the volunteer firefighters tune up their marching skills and help bring the newer members up to speed.

All the hard work pays off if it results in another Governor’s Cup at the end of the parade in Dover.

“It’s a very joyous time,” Embert said. “It’s the fruits of all your labor.”

The Citizens’ Hose Company band starts rehearsing for the parade season in January, said Bob Merrill, chairman for the band committee and a special life member of the fire company.

The Citizens’ Hose band performs in numerous parades and concerts and plays at the Delaware State Fair for 10 nights leading up to the main event – the DSVA Convention parade in Dover.

Over 50 members of the Citizens’ Hose Company band and the band’s color guard marched in Dover this year, Merrill said.

The members of the Citizens’ Hose band are all members of the fire company.

With about 85 people on the band’s roster, it becomes a challenge to coordinate the events and keep everyone on the same page. Family members have to chip in to help organize the effort.

Merrill said that competing for the Governor’s Cup requires a lot of attention to the smallest details.

They have to make sure everyone has a good haircut, double check that all the uniforms are pressed and have the right number of buttons, and make sure everyone knows the order of the music and the rules of judging.

Merrill said it’s an exhilarating feeling when the results of the judging are announced and Citizens’ Hose wins the Governor’s Cup.

“I’m on cloud nine for several days after that,” he said. “It keeps me coming back year after year.”

So far, it’s kept Merrill coming back for almost a half century. He’s been involved with the fire company band for 47 years.

“I’ve seen the victories and the losses,” he said.

Merrill said that Citizens’ Hose has been a constant contender for the Governor’s Cup over the years, but the other top competitors for the trophy have come and gone after periods of excellence.

The energy generated by the fire company’s performance in the convention parade carries over to the town.

“The esprit de corps is felt in the community,” Merrill said. “It helps us to recruit members. People can sense the pride we have in the fire company and are anxious to be a part of that.”

All that preparation for the parade also has more tangible benefits.

“Our equipment is probably in better shape today than when it rolled off the assembly line,” Merrill said. “I have seen them take screws out of a truck and clean the notches.”

Through the years – Citizens’ Hose Company and the Governor’s Cup

Smyrna’s Citizens’ Hose Company has won the Governor’s Cup 28 times since the prize was first awarded in 1958.

The local fire company has also won a total of 18 Charles L. Jones Memorial Trophies, which are awarded to the parade’s second best appearing fire company with music.

In 1958, the first year that the Governor’s Cup was awarded, Citizens’ Hose Co. hosted the DFVA convention in Smyrna but did not compete.

The next year, Citizens’ Hose placed second in the parade and earned its first Jones Trophy.

In 1960, Citizens’ Hose won the Governors’ Cup for the first time, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Citizen’s Hose earned the right to retire the original Governor’s Cup by winning the trophy three times in a row from 1960 to 1962.

In 1974, Citizens’ Hose co-hosted the DFVA convention with Clayton and didn’t compete for the cup.

There have been two years when no parade was held and the Governor’s Cup was not awarded. In 1984, there was no parade due to rain. In 2001, the parade was not held due to the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Citizens’ Hose holds the record for most consecutive Governor’s Cup victories with 10 in a row between 1993 and 2003.

Governor’s Cups (28)

Governor’s Cup wins: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1991, 1990, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1976, 1975, 1969, 1967, 1966, 1962, 1961 and 1960.

Charles L. Jones Memorial Trophies (18)

Charles L. Jones Memorial Trophies: 2004, 1992, 1989, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1968, 1965, 1964, 1963 and 1959.

*Historical information compiled with the help of Bruce Ennis, 14th District Senator and a member of the Citizens’ Hose Company Board of Directors

Citizens' Hose - 2008 DVFA parade prizes

Governor’s Cup – best appearing fire company with music
Best appearing Pre-Teen Miss Fire Prevention – Isabel Walter
Best appearing Jr. Miss Fire Prevention – Jenna Scuse
Best appearing brush/field unit
Best appearing aerial device
Best appearing tanker (1,500 or more gallons)
Best appearing pumper/rescue
Best appearing rescue
Best appearing Delaware fire apparatus – any category
Best drum major – Mark Mumford
Best appearing non-school band
Best appearing fire company color guard unit
5th best appearing antique pumper (pre-1950)