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Report from Engine Co. 82

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From his bawdy and brave fellow firefighters to the hopeful, hateful, beautiful and beleaguered residents of the poverty-stricken district where he works, Dennis Smith tells the story of a brutalising yet rewarding profession.


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From his bawdy and brave fellow firefighters to the hopeful, hateful, beautiful and beleaguered residents of the poverty-stricken district where he works, Dennis Smith tells the story of a brutalising yet rewarding profession.

30 review for Report from Engine Co. 82

  1. 4 out of 5

    S.P. Aruna

    I have to thank my Goodreads friend, "Brother Skip" for getting me interested in this book after reading his review of it. Do you realize, that unlike incidents with the police, whenever there is a fire there is a great deal of focus on the fire, with little or no mention of the firemen fighting it. (a gender neutral word for this profession is firefighters, though women make up less than 20% of the force in western countries). This lack of focus is a shame. We hardly hear of these heroes. For b I have to thank my Goodreads friend, "Brother Skip" for getting me interested in this book after reading his review of it. Do you realize, that unlike incidents with the police, whenever there is a fire there is a great deal of focus on the fire, with little or no mention of the firemen fighting it. (a gender neutral word for this profession is firefighters, though women make up less than 20% of the force in western countries). This lack of focus is a shame. We hardly hear of these heroes. For better or worse, we hear of cops, and we are aware of soldiers in combat, but rarely think of fire fighters, who fight fires, not people, and who are known to risk their lives to save others. They deserve to be admired. This book is an account of what it was like to be in a fire company in one of the worst neighborhoods in the US, so it is doubly educational. I learned quite a few things, most of them unpleasant. Here are some: Fire fighting is the most hazardous profession in the world. An average of 8 firemen each year die in the line of duty in New York City alone Fire fighters are called for a variety of emergencies, not just fires: car accidents, drug overdoses and other medical emergencies, even shootings. The number of malicious false alarms is just incredible, averaging over 100,000 per year in the US. While this book was an eye-opening account of the experiences of a fire fighter, it was somewhat tainted with parts reflecting on poverty and behavior of people in the ghetto, which while sympathetic, at times seemed stilted and insincere. Also, I did not appreciate a few snide remarks concerning protests against the Vietnam war (I admit, I'm overly sensitive on that issue). Notwithstanding these minor points, the book was a great way to gain insight into what it takes to work in this noble profession. I might try some other accounts, such as Gutter Medicine: Twenty-six Years as a Firefighter Paramedic, and 38 Years a Detroit Firefighter's Story

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ida

    Contrary to the stereotype, firefighters do not sit around the firehouse playing cards all day. I first read this book in the early 1980's after I joined the volunteer fire department. I found Dennis Smith's description of the duties and problems firefighters face to be most accurate. Company 82 is situated in New York City and was written in the 70's but it's still a fast paced and hysterical read. My sister, who is not interested in the fire service, also loved the book and screamed with laugh Contrary to the stereotype, firefighters do not sit around the firehouse playing cards all day. I first read this book in the early 1980's after I joined the volunteer fire department. I found Dennis Smith's description of the duties and problems firefighters face to be most accurate. Company 82 is situated in New York City and was written in the 70's but it's still a fast paced and hysterical read. My sister, who is not interested in the fire service, also loved the book and screamed with laughter at some of the pranks recounted. For anyone who works in public safety, especially the fire service, this book is a classic and worth hunting down

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Primrose

    The best book about the life of a firefighter ever written! When you get done reading this, you will understand what it was like being an FDNY fireman when the Bronx was burning in the early 70's.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christian Bauman

    This was one my favorite books when I was a kid, by a long shot. Top 5, easily. Probably read it for the first time when I was 10 or 11 (I remember the tape-reenforced paperback from the Hunterdon County Library) (and yes, 10 or 11 was prob too young to be reading this; story of my life; likely why I'm a freak now) and reread it easily 10 times after that over the next few years. So...having just reread again for first time in thirty years, how did it stand up? Yeah...pretty brilliantly. Besides This was one my favorite books when I was a kid, by a long shot. Top 5, easily. Probably read it for the first time when I was 10 or 11 (I remember the tape-reenforced paperback from the Hunterdon County Library) (and yes, 10 or 11 was prob too young to be reading this; story of my life; likely why I'm a freak now) and reread it easily 10 times after that over the next few years. So...having just reread again for first time in thirty years, how did it stand up? Yeah...pretty brilliantly. Besides the whole fireman thing (there was absolutely nothing I wanted more as a kid than to be a fireman) this book also goes to a place of honor on my "old weird NYC shelf." God what a shit show the 5 boroughs were in the 60s and 70s. I'm of an age where I witnessed the last of it (and kinda miss it, in a twisted way) and I don't think anyone younger could truly believe how bad it was. But I digress. I could say a lot more wonderful about Dennis Smith and his firefighters, but holding back for my write-up here on his 9/11 book, report from Ground Zero. I'll post that shortly.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Larsen

    In the city that never sleeps, New York City is the microcosm of the world, an urban population of eight million people with endless troubles, experiences and stories to tell. In one of the biggest and busiest metropolis’ on earth, there’s a litany of emergencies and hazards for an elite few to contend with on a 24-hour basis. Meet the courageous first responders of the “Big Apple,” preferably the venerable smoke eaters of the FDNY’s Firehouse 82. Known throughout the department as “The Big Hous In the city that never sleeps, New York City is the microcosm of the world, an urban population of eight million people with endless troubles, experiences and stories to tell. In one of the biggest and busiest metropolis’ on earth, there’s a litany of emergencies and hazards for an elite few to contend with on a 24-hour basis. Meet the courageous first responders of the “Big Apple,” preferably the venerable smoke eaters of the FDNY’s Firehouse 82. Known throughout the department as “The Big House,” Firehouse 82 is home to one of the busiest fire companies in the world: Engine 82, Ladder 31, Battalion 27 along with two other engine and ladder companies that respond to more than ten thousand emergency calls a year; making Firehouse 82 one of the most active firehouses in the world. Engine 82’s harrowing exploits are not shared with outsiders. Only a rare few are privy to the heart-stopping drama, dark humor within the firehouse kitchen and horrendous tragedy that these hardened band of brothers experience during someone’s worst day. Now, one of New York’s Bravest takes the reader beyond the red tape of urban firefighting and shares his most intimate thoughts and trials of serving in a district of New York that mirrors a war zone more than a thriving community of promise and potential. Enter the South Bronx, once home to Irish and Puerto Rican immigrants in the 1950’s, now, is a chaotic and disgraced slum of impoverished blacks, rival gangs, drug dealers, disadvantaged youths and homeless squatters. In a place where apathy and degradation abound, the Bronx is a combustible powder keg of inner-city violence and disastrous conflagrations that stretch even the toughest firefighters to the breaking point. Walking a thin line between civilization and oblivion is veteran Firefighter Dennis Smith and his eclectic brothers-in-arms headquartered at Firehouse 82. In “Report from Engine 82” he recounts his time in the FDNY’s “Big House” confronting a myriad of challenging and deadly structure fires and the many complexities of lost souls who often find an out lit for their frustrations and woes by setting buildings and vehicles ablaze. While the iconic action hero exploits of New York’s Bravest might seem exhilarating for some to watch and idolize as a sick form of entertainment at the expense of others lives, slaying the Red Devil is not without tremendous human cost on the fireground. Dennis Smith illustrates the sobering task of listening to the FDNY Radio and hearing the dreaded message “SIGNAL 5-5-5-5 HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED.” Announcing the sudden passing of one of New York’s Bravest, be it a seasoned veteran in an apartment fire or Probie on the job for a few weeks, Dennis Smith and his crew all feel the same way... deeply saddened and humbled at the thought that it could have just as easily been them answering their final run for the last time. Amid the firehouse flags lowered to “Half Mast” and solemn funerals honoring the life of a fallen brother, the physical and emotional toll of running in when everyone else is running out of a scene straight from Dante’s Inferno can play a key role in one’s personal life at home as well. Working 24-hour shifts every third day of the week takes a great strain on the eloquently honest firefighter-author. One can only ride the roller coaster of excitement and sorrow for so long until the years of super-human endurance and skill start to wain on a battered and emotionally-numbed first responder. Author Dennis Smith does an exemplary job chronicling the hardships and the satisfaction of working as one of America’s Bravest in what is arguably one of the roughest and most active beats for any firefighter to operate in. Having seen Mr. Smith interviewed in a BBC Documentary and British firefighter author Allan Grice of “Call the Fire Brigade” giving “Report from Engine 82” high marks, I wanted to check it out on Audible. After listening to it, no one delivers the visceral drama, firehouse banter and humanity better than Dennis Smith. If you’re a fan of the first responder series “Third Watch” or firefighting in general, then “Report from Engine 82” is a must-have for you. Well worth the time to read or listen!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Keith Stahl

    Wow. I’ve always wanted to read this and now I have. Being a firefighter who has spent a large part of my career working in a socioeconomically depressed area, even today I can relate. His projection of humanity and humility are very accurate and for me, moving. Brought back many amenities and buried feelings. Thank you Dennis Smith and the courageous men and women of the service.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lloyd Kerns

    The excitement of firefighting, and the wisdom of a sociologist. Two things that mixed well. I did not want this one to end and though I read it in ebook format, I will be buying a paperback copy soon.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Mace

    Firemen have one of the most thank less jobs imaginable, nobody really cares about them until all hell breaks loose and they don't know who to turn to.in this book this is something Firefighter Dennis Smith deals with everyday he walked through those big gleaming bay doors of the firehouse.Smith is a very well respected New York City fireman he spent over 18 years with the department in one of the worst boroughs of the city,the south Bronx,Smith did not only write this book, he is writing about Firemen have one of the most thank less jobs imaginable, nobody really cares about them until all hell breaks loose and they don't know who to turn to.in this book this is something Firefighter Dennis Smith deals with everyday he walked through those big gleaming bay doors of the firehouse.Smith is a very well respected New York City fireman he spent over 18 years with the department in one of the worst boroughs of the city,the south Bronx,Smith did not only write this book, he is writing about his riveting experiences accumulated over the years. with great consideration Smith shares his opinions and thoughts as he has done with all of his other books in particular,"REPORT FROM GROUND ZERO". Smith goes into grave detail recalling one incident where a man was speeding and accidentally struck a young boy.they boy sustained multiple injuries,however,the whole neighborhood took part in removing the driver from his vehicle and beating him half to death.Another gut wrenching recollection of Smiths occurs on one shift when engine 82 is called to a structure fire,shortly after smith and his men enter the building and begin putting water on the fire,the smoke becomes so thick that none of the men can breath and begin to vomit on each other from smoke inhalation(bare in mind this novel takes place in the 70's and although breathing apparatus's,scott packs,where in use by the department you were considered less of a man for using one). It is smith's goal to educate the public on what happens on a day to day basis in the New York City Fire Department.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alana Cash

    This is a very interesting true story about the work-life of a fireman in New York in the 1960s. It covers the equipment, the fires, the people in the Bronx that start the fires and pull the fire alarm for just for fun. It reads like a novel, which makes it all the more interesting - nothing stilted. It always seemed like dangerous work, but I wasn't aware of how often firemen are hurt - falling thru ceilings and floors, getting firebrands down their boots or back of their jackets. The author pa This is a very interesting true story about the work-life of a fireman in New York in the 1960s. It covers the equipment, the fires, the people in the Bronx that start the fires and pull the fire alarm for just for fun. It reads like a novel, which makes it all the more interesting - nothing stilted. It always seemed like dangerous work, but I wasn't aware of how often firemen are hurt - falling thru ceilings and floors, getting firebrands down their boots or back of their jackets. The author paints a picture of New York - the tensions and frustrations - just the way it is today. Totally recommended and wish some current firemen would put out another book of stories like this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna Stephens

    A great book, despite being a little dated now. It covers the life and experiences of a New York firefighter working in South Bronx, Engine Company 82 - at the time it was written - the 1960s - it was the busiest fire station in the country, with more than 5,000 calls a year - 30-40 per shift. Obviously, firefighting techniques have changed radically since then, as have procedures and equipment, but the basic level of professional and personal integrity a firefighter must maintain remains the sa A great book, despite being a little dated now. It covers the life and experiences of a New York firefighter working in South Bronx, Engine Company 82 - at the time it was written - the 1960s - it was the busiest fire station in the country, with more than 5,000 calls a year - 30-40 per shift. Obviously, firefighting techniques have changed radically since then, as have procedures and equipment, but the basic level of professional and personal integrity a firefighter must maintain remains the same. A book about real heroes.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Bobin

    I am old enough to remember when firefighters wore rubber coats and boots, entered burning buildings without a mask and road on the outside of the trucks. This book will take you back to another time and into the midst of New York City firefighting with the busiest station. Written in a time when alarm boxes were on every corner and the fire department had no idea what they were responding to. It will give you a real appreciation for what we have today.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    The definitive book on firefighting in an urban environment. A must read for any serious firefighter. I read it as a teen, then served as a firefighter in the U.S.A.F. This book is a real "blast from the past", covering the 1960's and the 1970's. Boy has New York City ever changed. I just wonder what those houses go for now in those same neighborhoods, the houses the kids didn't burn down.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    A searing, complex, and authoritative view of firefighting and poverty in the south Bronx, circa 1970s. No surprise that this memoir is still in print, because it reads will all the breathless propulsion of a good novel. You don't have to be interested in firefighting to appreciate this masterful portrait from a true, hard-working insider.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Domenic

    If you want to know what feels like to be a New York City firefighter during the 1970's and 1980's, this is the book to read. Dennis Smith tells of his experience from his taking the competitive exam, through being a veteran firefighter at the busiest firehouse in the city. I also recommend reading any of the other books he has written, both fiction and non fiction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matt Moore

    Smith is a master of imagery. As a fireman myself, I can imagine the conditions that Smith and his fellow firemen faced as they fought fire after fire. I almost felt exhausted after reading his description of each job. I simply couldn’t put the book down.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim hahn

    good read great stories from a generation gone by. it is interesting as a firefighter, how the hold breed fought fire and delt with ems. alot of things have changed, but not the mentality. nice quick read, good stories.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevin DeLong

    Who doesn't like a great fire story or stories. I can read this over and over and recommend it to all the young guys around my firehouses.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael J

    A page-turner. A realistic look into the life of a firefighter at the busiest fire station in the country.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andy Smith

    Read it years ago as a kid. Really want to find and read again!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Excellent Finished this book in two days. Couldn't put it down! A fantastic account of fire fighting in the South Bronx of the 1970s.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen F

    This is probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve read this book in the last 40 years, and it was my motivation for my short stint as a fireman. Still all these years later, this book still holds up.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Weber

    An unvarnished and personal look at work in the busiest fire house in New York City, immediately prior to the bottom falling out of the City's finances and the Bronx burning.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jason T

    This is an ALL time classic and a must read for ALL firefighters !!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Haddad

    Great book about the War Years in the Bronx, great first hand stories of the insanity that the fdny dealt with. My only complaint is I wish it was longer.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bob Box

    Read in 1972. Engrossing portrait of a firehouse and the men who work there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angie Fehl

    This is the memoir of Dennis Smith, who in the 1960s was a FDNY firefighter on Engine Co. 82, one of the busiest fire dept companies in the entire nation. Speaking of FDNY, if you ever wondered about the difference between FDNY and NYFD, Smith here does explain the history behind the distinction. Engine Company 82 served South Bronx, an area that during Smith's time had more homicides per square mile than anywhere else in the US. At the time of this book's original publication (1972), Smith had b This is the memoir of Dennis Smith, who in the 1960s was a FDNY firefighter on Engine Co. 82, one of the busiest fire dept companies in the entire nation. Speaking of FDNY, if you ever wondered about the difference between FDNY and NYFD, Smith here does explain the history behind the distinction. Engine Company 82 served South Bronx, an area that during Smith's time had more homicides per square mile than anywhere else in the US. At the time of this book's original publication (1972), Smith had been a firefighter for 8 years. The time in which he served -- the violence, the instability of communities, the endless stream of fires and medical calls -- that time frame started being referenced simply as "The Bronx is burning." Even today, you say that line to a firefighter and odds are they'll know exactly what you're talking about (unless you happen to say it to a super young newbie). This book recounts the best, the worst, the most memorable of calls within those years and what those calls taught him. This was a pick for a readathon I participated in awhile back where one of the challenge categories was to read someone else's favorite book. This is my husband's favorite (or at least one of them). He's referenced this book so many times since I met him years ago. Like anyone else, he likes to read stuff he can relate to, and being a firefighter himself he finds that the books of Dennis Smith really speak to him. Bit shameful that I've been with the guy 8 years now and I've only recently read this, but I guess the important thing is I DID read it. And liked it! Obviously I couldn't have the same appreciation for it that my guy does, since I don't work in the field, my understanding only being developed vicariously through stories I hear or read. Still, I can still relate on the level of being the life partner of a firefighter and observing on a day to day basis what the profession does to them. Smith really brings home just how hard a profession this truly is. He shares stories of dodging unstable people coming at him wielding whips, the amount of time that gets wasted attending to false alarms and trash fires (but you don't know it's nothing major til you get there, so you still have to go...), how he documented once that in a 3 month period he wasn't able to finish a single meal because of calls that kept coming in. Not. One. Single. Meal. In 3 months. There are also stories of struggle with race and community relations, racism within the fire department (yeah, this guy doesn't sugar coat it, readers). Smith shares these stories in a chronological fashion, starting with his newbie days and the excitement that comes along with those early calls, working into a more seasoned approach to his job years later. He admits that over time those early visions of glamour and ideas of heroism that initially attract people to the profession inevitably wears off with time after time having to enter grimy, disgusting buildings to get to people, tragically losing friends or patients, having to be away from loved ones so much, etc. That's not to say he hates the job though. Far from it actually. His overall message is actually more along the lines that if you can be okay with the lousy end of it, the good bits hands down still make it one of the best jobs in the world. If you're at all squeamish or sensitive to foul language or crude humor, this could be a tough read for you. For one thing, the book opens and closes with stories of children on fire that Smith was called to save. But that's the reality of the job, so I can appreciate Smith not trying to make his memoir all fluffy for the faint of heart. He does balance the more graphic portions with really amusing stories full of the kind of humor you can only experience among EMS workers (one such story involving monetary bets made on how many stitches certain injuries will require). Smith also explains that while many might find the humor off-color, it's not meant to be insensitive and actually does play a vital role in the firefighters being able to mentally manage what they have to see and experience on a daily basis. While I really enjoyed the stories and appreciated how this book helped me understand my mister's profession better, the Lit. major in me did struggle a bit with Smith's actual writing style. His transitions can be awkward and jarring. There were also moments where he would sometimes go off on tangents where I wanted him to get back to the previous, more interesting topic. Even so, I highly recommend this one for anyone currently or formerly involved with fire service, interested in going into it, anyone involved with someone involved with fire service... just anyone, really. It's a powerful read!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    In the wake of 9/11 I read Smith's 'Report From Ground Zero' as suggested by my mother, who had read this book when it was first released. I found 'Ground Zero' to be very well-written, as Smith got to the heart of the experience from the perspective of a first responder that day. I may read that book again soon, as the details are not fresh enough in my mind to compare the names and companies with those mentioned in this book. As with 'Ground Zero', Smith takes readers in-depth and holds nothing In the wake of 9/11 I read Smith's 'Report From Ground Zero' as suggested by my mother, who had read this book when it was first released. I found 'Ground Zero' to be very well-written, as Smith got to the heart of the experience from the perspective of a first responder that day. I may read that book again soon, as the details are not fresh enough in my mind to compare the names and companies with those mentioned in this book. As with 'Ground Zero', Smith takes readers in-depth and holds nothing back in 'Engine Co. 82'. The book was written 20+ years ago, so I'm sure some of the key components, such as the fire box/bell system, have been replaced by more modern conveniences, but maybe not. The bell system seemed to work, albeit too well, for the crowded South Bronx, especially with the number of unoccupied buildings and overall poverty of the neighborhoods that even today, may not have reliable telephone service. Other things, like the grueling tests to become firefighters and ascend the ranks probably are much the same as back then, with even more piled onto the requirements with the passage of time. Smith frequently defends his choice to work with 82, as the South Bronx at the time was one of the busiest and most dangerous neighborhoods in NYC. Most every fire he discusses requires battling not only the flames and smoke, but the debris in the buildings or security measures meant to keep bad guys out but in this case also keep the good guys out. When the calls for certain fire boxes came in, the police were dispatched too because there was usually a riotous crowd there to impede the firefighter's work. All in all, not somewhere I'd want to be, but Smith wanted to work somewhere where he'd never be bored and could feel like he was making a difference to someone who needed it, rather than getting called to the occasional grease fire in the kitchen of a fancy home. The saddest part of the book was when Smith was describing the number of false alarms they respond to. Kids who were bored with chasing rats or climbing garbage mountains would pull the fire box so the men in their shiny red truck would come with lights and sirens blazing, injecting some excitement into the kids' desolate lives. By the end of the book, I got the feeling the firefighters had been conditioned to expect false alarms from certain fire boxes, then one of those fire boxes ends up being pulled by a man who has been stabbed for the nickels and dimes from the machines at his laundromat, as his dying action. One moment the firemen are sighing as they gear up for yet another false alarm and the next they are covering the old man's body. That's not to say the firemen did anything wrong as Smith indicates the man's wound was almost immediately fatal, just that it's so wrong on so many levels, from the statement that half of the calls that station responds to in a given day are false alarms, to the thought that times were so bad in that neighborhood that a man who is a well known figure in the neighborhood is murdered for a sack of change and the killer, like those who pull the fire boxes for fun, will never be caught or even sought after.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    A great book. Shows the fire department from the inside. It isn't all fun, playing with the lights and sirens and sliding down the brass pole. The fire house is your home for at least 24 hours, or more if you trade shifts with someone on the day before or after you. There are the daily household chores that have to get done, inspections of all the equipment and of the fire trucks, fire engines, tactical and other units. It wouldn't do to get on a scene and not have a necessary piece of equipment A great book. Shows the fire department from the inside. It isn't all fun, playing with the lights and sirens and sliding down the brass pole. The fire house is your home for at least 24 hours, or more if you trade shifts with someone on the day before or after you. There are the daily household chores that have to get done, inspections of all the equipment and of the fire trucks, fire engines, tactical and other units. It wouldn't do to get on a scene and not have a necessary piece of equipment or a piece of equipment that was not working properly. Something like that could cause serious injury or death of a civilian or one of your brothers ( fellow firefighter). Coming from a firefighter, (and being one) I found this book more compelling then either of the fairly recent movies, "Backdraft" and "Ladder 49". Both were excellent even with the 'mistakes' that were made, most like due to artistic license. A movie detailing the average day at at firehouse would likely bore most people to tears, Dennis Smith does an excellent job writing about life of a firefighter at the firehouse, and home. I can't wait to read all his books.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Scranton

    Definitely enlightening. I learned so much from this book. The good, the bad, the ugly....and the "snotty". (Book was written before FF wore face masks, or so I've been told) This book makes you look at Firemen like the people that they are. They have family. Wives. Husbands. Children. And they put themselves at risk for your safety. Love you local Firemen. Check your smoke alarms! My favorite new "Firefighting term" from my favorite local Firefighter: "Gotta put the wet stuff on the red stuff" Oka Definitely enlightening. I learned so much from this book. The good, the bad, the ugly....and the "snotty". (Book was written before FF wore face masks, or so I've been told) This book makes you look at Firemen like the people that they are. They have family. Wives. Husbands. Children. And they put themselves at risk for your safety. Love you local Firemen. Check your smoke alarms! My favorite new "Firefighting term" from my favorite local Firefighter: "Gotta put the wet stuff on the red stuff" Okay, I'm sorry, I just have to add this!!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Decent book. The juxtaposition of the firefighters fighting fires in the middle of hell (the South Bronx in the late 1960s) sticks with you. All these people living terrible lives and dying bad deaths but the guys in the firehouse going out call after call in the middle of meals, of sleep, of just returning from other calls. (700 some odd calls a month would be bad enough, but the 1/3 that are malicious false alarms that get other folks killed is the kicker). The cumulative exhaustion, the trips Decent book. The juxtaposition of the firefighters fighting fires in the middle of hell (the South Bronx in the late 1960s) sticks with you. All these people living terrible lives and dying bad deaths but the guys in the firehouse going out call after call in the middle of meals, of sleep, of just returning from other calls. (700 some odd calls a month would be bad enough, but the 1/3 that are malicious false alarms that get other folks killed is the kicker). The cumulative exhaustion, the trips to the hospital, coughing black grime, while they're keeping a house running all while soaked, freezing, and get smoke inhalation at the same time. The references to William Carlos Williams, Tennyson, et. al show a thinker and a writer wearing the fireman's coat; I just wish he had explored them more.

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