Elk Grove Firefighters Face Unique Challenge

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, April 5, 2007

That’s Fire Captain Kris Hubbard warming up on his brand new set of bagpipes.  He’s ready to begin weekly practice with the 9 member honor guard he formed within the Cosumnes Community Services District in Elk Grove.
We have a lot of work to do to really master the pipes, which will be a several year process before we’re really accomplished.
Problem is, the honor guard has only about a month before it debuts at Elk Grove’s 50th anniversary Western Festival Parade on May 5th.  The crowd will be in the hundreds.  It takes Hubbard’s breath away. And that’s not a good thing.
I can’t even tell ya how much it takes to blow up the bag and continue to make sound.  I thought I was physically fit until I started playing the pipes.
Bagpipes are a traditional instrument for firefighters.  They’re often used in funeral processions, but also for celebratory occasions like next month’s parade:
You have to coordinate your blowing, your fingering and get your feet marching in the right time to the music.

Professional bag piper Liz Tubbs is teaching Hubbard and his three fellow pipers. As practice starts, it’s clear blowing and coordination are a problem:
“Band, march!”… Playing begins…
Despite the difficulties he’s encountering, Hubbard insists he won’t give up on the bagpipes. He says there’s personal meaning behind what he’s doing:
Firefighters all across the nation, and worldwide even, they always hold true to their traditions.  And this is just my way of honoring the fire service.
With less than a month to go until the parade, Hubbard doesn’t seem like a man concerned about the possibility of public embarrassment. In fact, he has a message for parade goers who might mock his bag-piping abilities: 
 If they don’t like the way I sound, pick it up and try it…laughs…..