By John Malecky
This is a soft cover book measuring 5 ½ inches by 8 ½ inches and has 279 pages. It is the stories of three generations of firefighters spanning a 30 year period of service. The author is the second generation. He served in three states, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Currently he is a fire protection engineer. These stories, which take up 20 chapters take place in the volunteer ranks, although for a time, while attending the University of Maryland, he rode with career firefighters in a “live-In” program. The stories begin with the author being young and tagging along with his father who was a volunteer fire chief in New York State. I must say he is a man of my own heart because it was at the ago of 10 that I had decided I wanted to be a fireman. It came from reading a merit badge book on the Firemanship merit badge and successful testing to achieve it. The author had the advantage of being able to respond with his father. My father was not a firefighter although my uncle was but we both lived in cities with career firefighters and riding with my uncle to fires was not possible. Anyway I identify with the author and throughout his 20 chapters he writes with a professional technique that even though they were volunteers, you would think that he was reminiscing on fires and emergency calls in big cities with career departments (although as mentioned earlier he did ride with career firefighters in Maryland.) The imagery of his writing puts you there with him especially if you are in emergency services. While many of the incidents are fires, many others are vehicle accidents including where life is lost. Having been a battalion chief and knowing what has to be assessed on the fireground, he leaves no question in my mind that he’s “on the money” when it comes to incident command. Of course, not every call goes well. Mistakes are made and things happen when we have no control over them. But the author write in a honest way and points these things out when stuff goes bad, making this book realistic, not portraying the players as heroes that always win! It has been said that volunteers do not always enter burning buildings, some say because they are not being paid to do it, but in this book they do and the details of their operating under adverse conditions leaves little to the imagination! From structure fires to rural tanker shuttles to operating the Jaws at a car accident, there isn’t a moment of “ho hum” when reading this book! The chapters are generally 10 to 15 pages long and the rapidity in which you go through this book is strictly based on how much time you have to spend reading. In some incidents you have what the news media would describe as “graphic” but as emergency workers we know that these things are always a possibility when we answer a call. When we wear the uniform of helping others we must condition ourselves to keep calm so we can plan strategy and tactics. This is what is expected of us!
Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble as well.