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Ready to Roll, Ready to Die


By John . Malecky October, 2022

Ready to Roll…Ready to Die
By Paul F. Cook

Available from:
FSP Books & Videos
433 Main Street. Suite 2A
Hudson, MA 01749
E-mail: support@fire-police-ems.com

Price: $29.95

This is a hard cover book measuring six inches by nine inches with 367 pages. It is the memoirs of a district chief (not deceased) beginning with his childhood interest and followed through with his retirement in 1988. This book kind of reminds me of my own life, as at the age of 10 I decided I wanted to someday become a firefighter after studying the Firemanship merit badge book shortly after jointing the Boy Scouts. I eventually followed through, however in the younger years I was a fire buff prior to my appointment. Such is the case of the author! In Boston, where he grew up, buffs were referred to as “Sparks” and there is a club named the Boston Sparks Association. The way the book is written portrays a labor of love by the author almost as if you are sitting on his knee and he is going through his life and career a little at a time! He goes through all aspects of his life including some family life and travels outside of the city. There are 18 chapters and all are named. Some of them are very long with many incidents recorded. There are also anecdotes between the stories. Not all of the incidents involve him directly, but all are quite interesting through there is much horror and tragedy to report of civilian and firefighter deaths. There is a list of 177 line of duty deaths up through 1999. A glossary precedes the first chapter. Within the book are a number of black and white photos, some showing scenes of the tragedies including the Molasses Disaster in 1919 (21 killed plus one firefighter), the Coconut Grove Night Club fire in 1942 (496 patrons dead) and the Hotel Vendome in 1972 where nine firefighters were killed. There are also some winter fires in which apparatus became totally covered in ice but still operated. There is also Proposition 2 ½ instituted in 1980 which resulted in a drastic layoff and reduction of fire companies, particularly in Boston. It is touched on in the memoirs. The was also the reason for the arson fires in “Burn Boston Burn”, a book reviewed in the column in April of 2020. In all, this book although written many years ago is still a good read for those interested in memoirs and history of large cities as told by well experienced firefighters who lived through them!

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John MaleckySenior Columnist

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