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By John M. Malecky October, 2021

Trenton Firefighting
By Michael Ratcliffe
Forwarded by Chief Dennis Keenan (ret)

Available from:
FSP books & Videos
433 Main Street, #2A
Hudson, MA 01749

Price: $21.99

This is a soft cover book from the Images of America series and measures 6 ½ inches by 9 inches. It has 127 pages and five chapters between the Forward, Acknowledgements and Introduction, and the Roll of Honor in the back. The Roll of Honor lists 34 Trenton firefighters known to have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The author’s name is familiar to me and I believe I met him in person many years ago when I was photographing apparatus near Trenton. My recollection of the conversation was quite pleasant, as was my conversation with Trenton Fire Chief Dan George whom I called one day to ask permission to photograph their apparatus. He was so pleasant and accommodating that it was almost as if we were schoolmates! There are several photos of him in this book. He was the longest serving chief. Well back to the book!

The author did an excellent job of writing about the TFD, which became paid in 1892. He had help from many others which he acknowledges. Most of the images in the book were scanned from the originals. The five chapters are divided in years, namely 1747-1892, 1892-1920, 1921-1950, 1951-1990 and 1991-2020. Much of what is written is accompanied by a photo. All photos are black and white. I should mention that for the fact that this is a history of firefighting, there is no gallery of fire apparatus. There are photos of apparatus mostly from the earlier days, so there are horses and spoked wheels. The first motorized vehicle was actually a 1907 chief car with a 10 horsepower steam propelled motor. The reader will see much more apparatus in the wealth of fire pictures which dominate the book. One is of a ship built fuel tender, which I remember photographing. Their shop built five vehicles, two pumpers, two floodlight trucks and the fuel tender, which are lined up in one photo.

There are a number of photos of personnel, both individual and in groups. One is of their first African American firefighter who also had been a marine veteran in World War II and did a search and rescue of a two-year-old girl. There is also mention of the first African American captain, the first Hispanic firefighter and the first female firefighter.

If you like history you will find this book an extremely interesting read!

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John MaleckySenior Columnist

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