Celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Regional Fire Society foundation

On August 4-7, 1900 the celebration of the 25th anniversary of foundation of the Voluntary Local Fire Society (Ochotnicza straż pożarna) was held in Lviv. Delegates from other territorial fire societies of the area as well as the ones from Bukovyna and Czechia participated in the celebration. Besides a solemn parade along the central part of the city and a Mass in the Cathedral, the congress participants held an exhibition of fire prevention devices, a competition between fire teams, and performances by firefighters.

Historical context

Fire societies were one of the ways of military or paramilitary training beyond the Austrian state machinery, same for both Poles and Ukrainians. That is why such societies presupposed, besides their "title" activity, a certain patriotic load. Even though the holiday was supposed to be occupational, it actually meant a congress of paramilitary patriotic organizations of the region. Lviv suited the occasion well both due to its administrative designation, and because of the status of a "historical capital".

Description of the event with localization

The celebration in Lviv started on August 4, when delegates were met at the railway stations. Later they were accommodated in the Adam Mickiewicz school (today, school No. 62 on Vynnychenka str.). On the same evening a meeting was held in a hall in the townhouse on 17, Rynok Square.

One of the main events held on the next day (August 5) was a solemn parade of members of the local fire societies along the city center. The itinerary was from the fire prevention service building at 23, Lysenka Str. (former Kurkowa), via Vynnychenko Street (former Czarnieckiego Street), Soborna Square (former Bernardyńska), Halytska Square, Mariyska Square (now part of Mickiewicz Square), Svoboda Avenue (former Karola Ludwika Street),  P. Beryndy Street (former Kilińskiego Street) to the Cathedral. The fact that the Mass was celebrated in the Latin cathedral only with the participation of Roman-Catholic clergy testifies to the actually Polish nature of the event, although the Ruthenians also participated in the feast. After the solemn celebration the festive procession continued along Teatralna Street – Brativ Rohatyntsiv Street (former Sobieski) – Halytska Street to the City Hall. After that, while the meetings of the management of regional societies took place in a room in the City Hall, the celebration moved to Stryiskyi Park (former Park Kilińskiego). An fire exhibition was held there, also competitions between fire teams, and firefighters performances were organized. The whole event ended with fireworks.

The next day (August 6) started with a meeting in the "Sokil" room at Rynok Square. Besides the exhibition and firefighters performances, jubilee postcards with the images of prominent figures of the fire movement in the region were presented to the public: P. Szczerbowski, А. Sapieha, А. Zgórski and others. The meeting in the premises of a Polish paramilitary society was to confirm the fact that the regional volunteering fire-fighting organizations acted within the system of Polish patriotic organizations.

Before the event

Announcements about the events were published in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Lwowska and in the Ukrainian Dilo. Gazeta Lwowska published the program of the celebration on July 22, and in Dilo an announcement was placed asking businessmen to take part in the exhibition of goods and articles used for extinguishing fire. Besides, the event was treated as a "regional" one, without any national meanings.

Interpretation of the event by different publications

In spite of the fact that the celebration was supposed to be of a regional nature, this event was still treated by some publications with a national bias. Thus, Gazeta Lwowska wrote about the "old Polish hospitality", with which delegates of the congress were treated in Lviv. At the same time, the Ukrainophile newspaper Dilo stressed that only one fire society (out of more than ten) that took part in the parade, had a flag with a Ukranian inscription on it. It was the "Voluntary Fire Society" (Ochotnicza straż pożarnafrom Kalush. Other fire societies, even from the same Ruthenian lands, as Chortkiv, Drohobych, Stanislav, Zolochiv, had flags with Polish inscriptions.

One may speak about the rather state-like, "regional" nature of the celebration due to the list of persons who were invited to the banquet held on August 7, 1900. In particular, Armenian archbishop Isaak Isakowicz, vice-president of the regional government Jan Lidl, starosta (county administration supervisor) Wacław Zaleski, vice-presidents of the city Michał Michalski and Stanisław Ciuchciński, etc. were invited (in all about 300 persons).