The band with Bing Crosby for an appearance on his CBS radio program, 1950

The Firehouse Five Plus Two was a Dixieland jazz band, popular in the 1950s, consisting of members of the Disney animation department.[1] Leader and trombonist Ward Kimball was inspired to form the band[1] after spending time with members of the Disney animation and sound department and finding that they had a lot in common as jazz aficionados. The lunchtime chats escalated into a full on lunchtime jam session as Kimball, an amateur trombonist, and animator Frank Thomas, a pianist, would find they "sounded pretty good all by ourselves."[2] The band went by two names, the Huggajeedy Eight and the San Gabriel Valley Blue Blowers. The "Firehouse" motif came from a 1916 American LaFrance fire engine that Kimball restored for the local Horseless Carriage Club, and the "Plus Two" was from the fact the band had seven people.

The band was also formative in creating the Good Time Jazz label under fellow aficionado Lester Koenig, who managed all the band's releases from 1940's The Firehouse Five Plus Two Story, Volume 1 to 1970's Live at Earthquake McGoon's. Walt Disney was approving of the band, letting them play at the company's Christmas parties, at Disneyland, and other social functions, on the single condition that they never fully leave their jobs at the studio.


The formative members of the band, as listed in the liner notes for The Firehouse Five Plus Two Story.[3]

Later, other Disney artists and professional jazz musicians joined in:



In addition to many singles, the band recorded at least thirteen LP records, starting in 1949.[5] The last album, Live at Earthquake McGoon's, was recorded in 1970 in San Francisco. They have subsequently been re-released on CD and remain available.

(* also released as a 4-record album)

In popular culture

In early Pogo comic strips, former Disney animator Walt Kelly featured a band called "The Firehouse Five Glee and Pilau Society". One 1950 Sunday strip featured a caricature of Ward Kimball as "Kimbo Cat".[6]

In 1977, comedian Ray Stevens recorded a "chicken clucking" version of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" under the name "Henhouse Five Plus Too".

Televised/film appearances

The band appeared in several Disney television specials, including their first special in 1950, One Hour In Wonderland.[7] They also appeared on the early Mickey Mouse Club television shows[8] and appeared in animated form in the 1953 Goofy animated short, "How to Dance".[9]

The band also received an homage in the direct-to-video 1999 Disney movie Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, where a band composed of actual firefighters played a jazzy rendition of "Jingle Bells" to help with a toy drive along with Mickey in "The Gift of the Magi" segment.

The band received an homage in the ending of the 2009 Disney film The Princess and the Frog, with the jazz-playing alligator Louis now belonging to a group called "The Firefly Five Plus Lou". A caricature of Frank Thomas is seen playing the piano.

Besides appearing in Disney productions, the band also appeared with Teresa Brewer in the 1951 Universal short "Teresa Brewer and the Firehouse Five Plus Two"[10] and appeared as themselves in the 1951 Kathryn Grayson film, Grounds for Marriage.[11] The Firehouse Five Plus Two also appeared on A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters on February 22, 1950, sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes.


  1. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 864. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ "FIREHOUSE FIVE PLUS TWO". Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  3. ^ "The Firehouse Five Plus Two Story - The Firehouse Five Plus Two | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  4. ^ Lester Koenig, liner notes to Dixieland Favorites, Firehouse Five Plus Two, Good Time Jazz S 10040, vinyl record, 1960.
  5. ^ "Firehouse Five Plus Two". Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  6. ^ R.C. Harvey; "Swamp Talk" entry for 1950-04-16; in Through the Wild Blue Yonder, Volume 1 of the complete Pogo, published by Fantagraphics (2001); also online at "Fantagraphics Books | Comics and Graphic Novels - the Unexpurgated "Swamp Talk" Annotations from Pogo Vol. 1". Archived from the original on 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  7. ^ "One Hour in Wonderland (TV Special 1950)". Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  8. ^ "Mickey Mouse Club: "I Want to Be a Fireman"". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  9. ^ "How to Dance (Short 1953)". Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  10. ^ "Teresa Brewer and the Firehouse Five Plus Two (Short 1951)". Retrieved 2021-08-27.
  11. ^ "Grounds for Marriage (1951)". Retrieved 2021-08-27.