NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It is a presence at every major fire department event, be it graduations, promotions, or a ship christening.

Now, the FDNY’s Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

“One of the present members of the band got up and said ‘Why don’t we have a pipe band like the police department?'” founding member Edward McLoughlin said of the band’s beginning.

He is one of 17 surviving members of the orignal 65 members and at age 84, he’s still playing.

“Well, I wanted to wait it out for the 50th, and I’m still alive,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell. “I think it’s an uplifting sound when you play it right.”

The band is like a brotherhood within a brotherhood.

“It’s quite a group of like 90 great guys in one room together. It’s bound to be a good time,” firefighter James Dowdell, who has been with the group for six years and who lost his FDNY father on 9/11, said.

He said there is tremendous pride.

“They set the bar real high and I’m just gonna try to keep going and keep carrying on the tradition,” he said.

The band also plays at funerals.

“We try and take care of the families, give them a little solace,” McLoughlin said.

McLoughlin said that’s the most important thing they do.

Watch & Listen LIVE