In life, the same circumstances that produce deadly consequences also engender convenient heroes. This is the fictional account of life in a large municipal fire department, based on observations of the people who are often called to lay it all on the line. The heroic measures used to protect life and property often end with tragic results.
The day-to-day life and actions in the fire house are captured and reflected to the reader, including the political deportment of many of the fire company's members. The scope and magnitude of the equipment and its utilization are made vivid. The behavior and actions depicted within the fire house provide a look at the assorted personalities that make up the competent assemblage whose goal it is to preserve life and property.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Ian Miller for Readers Favorite Although this book is fictional up to a point, too many of the incidents in it are too realistic, and this book would seem to have been written by a real fireman, describing incidents in which he was involved. The book is effectively "A few incidents in the life of some firemen in a major US city". There is no particular plot, but rather it comprises the description of a sequence of events that befall a small company of firemen. It has no particular beginning and no particular end, and thus, like some of Kafka's writing, gives the impression that the real story never ends. The book shows detailed characterization of some of them, and these are almost certainly real people. It also describes the environment in one of the rundown areas of a major city, a sort of Skid Row, where there are numerous fires, due to arson, decrepitude of buildings, or just plain stupidity. There is an overall feeling of depression. The reader ends up feeling that situation is not going to get better since, for political reasons, the Fire Department is under a regime of continual budget reductions, and societal responsibility is hardly improving. A quote: "Politicians live and breathe for one solitary purpose, re-election, a process requiring lies, deceit and charm." The firemen themselves are not exactly paragons of virtue either. To give one example, there is an examination for new recruits, and three enterprising souls break into the safe of the organizer, copy the answers, and sell the answers for a hundred dollars each. Further, they sell the answers in a form that is easily smuggled into the exam hall. As the reader might well guess, this does not turn out well, but I suspect many reading this review will not be able to guess exactly what went wrong. To summarize, this book is not high literature. It is not a book with a sophisticated plot. It does not have "beautiful writing", but it does have the authentic writing of someone who has experienced the situation. And it gives the reader a very clear idea of what the life of a big city fireman working in a decaying part of a major city is like. What characterizes the book above all else is the feeling of authenticity, and it is written from the heart.