Celebrating Special Occasions; Detroit Fire Department Style

Birthdays, promotions, last day of work before retirement, they’re all special occasions worthy of a celebration.  If you’re a Detroit Firefighter working in the engine house, that celebration could include a special meal, a visit from all the companies in your battalion, or being “Pied”.

“Pied” is not a typo.  It doesn’t refer to the type of pie you eat.  It’s a special pie made by filling a coffee filter with whipped cream (or occasionally shaving cream).  After it is prepared it is carefully, and sceretly transported to the person of honor and presented to them in a special manner.  buck gussof bday

As the saying goes,”It’s all in the presentation”.  In the case of a DFD pie, it is deliver by sneaking the pie near enough to the honoree and quickly smushing it in their face. 

The best Pieings happen when the honoree has no idea it is coming.  If you can get behind them when they are sitting you are better able to deliver a direct hit, dead center of their face, and smear the pie around to get the most coverage possible before they stop you.   

If this brings to mind a chaotic free-for-all that would rival a Three Stooges movie, you need to know that there is Pieing etiquette that is typically observed by Detroit Firefighters.

Since you are unlikely to find “Your Guide to Pieing Etiquette” at the Miss Manners website, we will present it here:

Your Guide to Pieing Etiquette

Observing these simple rules of Pieing Etiquette will keep you from making an embarassing faux pas that could cause you to loose your social standings within the Detroit Fire Department.

  • Random Pieing is not acceptable.  Pieing is limited to special occasions: birthdays, promotions, last day of work before retirement, etc. 
  • On birthdays, some believe you are fair game for your entire shift, while others believe it is limited to midnight on the date of your birthday.
  • Civilians are off limits for being Pied.  The exception to this rule would be anyone deemed an honorary member of our Detroit Fire family.
  • It is considered bad form to immediately retaliate by Pieing the person who got you.  You should wait for an appropriate occasion they are celebrating to Pie them back.
  • Upon being Pied, it is acceptable to wipe some of the whipped cream from your face and smear it on the offender’s face.  It is also acceptable to wipe some off and eat it.
  • It is acceptable and encouraged to Pie an honoree multiple times throughout the shift of the special occasion.  Multiple Pieing become more difficult to pull off as the honoree typically is on high alert after the first Pieing.

Now, let the Pieing begin!

pied 2


Do you know how the Detroit Fire Department tradition of Pieing began? 
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