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Croatia: Firefighters' flags

Last modified: 2011-08-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: firefighters | st. florian |
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Fire service flag

Since the mid-1990s at least, the professional fire brigades, and maybe also some volunteer services, fly the service flag on their buildings. In Zagreb, they use a dark blue flag with the service badge in the middle.

Željko Heimer, 13 September 2007

Ceremonial standards

Ceremonial standards (example, the flag of the Firefighters' Society of Zaton) were shown in 2005 in Varaždin during the International Firefighters Olympics; the exhibition booklet written by Biserka Vlahović [vLh05] includes 13 color photos of masterpieces of embroidery, out of 32 flags of the volunteer fire brigades from Croatia dated from 1869 to the Second World War. Considering the number of these volunteer brigades that were established in almost every village and town, there would be hundreds of flags alltogether in Croatia, each being a master piece of local craftsmanship and a valuable heritage.
In general most of these flags are red, although other versions also exist, bearing on one side some local attributes (coat of arms if any, but for smaller places there was no coat of arms at the time) and the depiction of St. Florian on the other. The inscription is often Vatru gasi, brata spasi (Extinguish the Fire, Save the Brother), or few other variants of similar significance.
In many place, three or even four flags that were used through history:
- pre-1941 flags;
- flags of 1941-1945 period, during the Independent State of Croatia, although apparently these rarely have any political symbols. This is the period when many small places introduced volunteer fire brigades, not quite unconnected with the fact that activity in such a service might have been a reason to avoid drafting into military;
- 1945-1990 period, during which flags, of course, did not feature any religious attributes, even though political attributes were again rarely included;
- post-1990 period, when new flags were introduced, often reverting to St. Florian's depiction.

Željko Heimer & Milan Jovanović, 27 September 2007

St. Florian and a similar motto feature on the fire service flags used in many of the countries of western and central Europe: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia - as well as the German-speaking part of the Italian Tirol.
You'll understand that these are all ceremonial standards, and not flags for day-to-day use.

Ian Sumner, 13 September 2007