Posted by Masakim on June 13, 2003
In Reply to: Visiting firemen posted by ESC on June 13, 2003
: : Some directors of our parent company are coming next week and I mentioned them to colleagues as "visiting firemen". No-one appears to have heard of this phrase (which seems quite normal to me) and I see it is not in the archives here. I don't know where I picked it up - does anyone else recognize it?
: VISITING FIREMAN - "A distinguished visitor from out-of-town. Here 'fireman' is not related to a firefighter but to a Native American dignitary responsible for lighting his tribe's fires." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997).
fireman The man who tends the branding fires and keeps the irons
FIREMEN See grease burner.
grease burner A logger's name for a fireman or for a cook.
From _Western Words: A Dictionary of the American West_ by Ramon F. Adams
FIRE MAN Among many Indian people, the person who tends the fire that heats the rocks outside a SWEAT LODGE.
SWEAT LODGE Among Western Indians, a low hut for a ritual of purification and to cure illness. ...
From _The Dictionary of the American West_ by Win Belvins
Amongst the Caddoes, and some other tribes of Indians, one man of the hunting party is the fire-man, who is also the "Medicine-man," priest or conjurer. It is his business to provide fire for the party. He carries the "fire tools," the steel, flint and spunk. (_The American Pioneer_, 1843)