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Notes from the Fireground


By John M. Malecky December, 2020

Notes from the Fireground
Memoir of a New York Firefighter
By Thomas Dunne

Available from:
FSP Books & Videos
188 Central Street, Suite #4
Hudson, MA 01749-1330

Price: $29.95

This is a soft cover book measuring 6” by 9”, with 198 pages. There are 35 chapters, all of which are very interesting. The author is a retired deputy chief who served 33 years on the job. I also served 33 years in the fire department I was in, and I think we both feel the same about the job…that it was the best job in the world. He comes from a firefighting family and his writing reflects both on the job and family memoirs. Each chapter deals with a single subject so to speak, and for me it was an enjoyable book to read because even though our departments were vastly different in size, there were many common routines and experiences that are similar.

I would say for the most part the book is about when he was a deputy, but there are also chapters that deal from when he was the “new man” up through the company officer ranks. There are stories dealing with tragedy, which of course are not enjoyable especially when serious injury is involved and life is lost, but the reader, if “on the job”, will go through this book and be able to empathize with the experiences.

There are a number of fires written about both when he was a company officer and chief, including getting into the thick of it as a lieutenant and captain. One chapter is devoted to “buffs” in which there is a slight error with an explanation from me. He stated that buffs were not firefighters. While that is true to distinguish them on the fireground, many firefighters are fire buffs when they are off duty. I figure that in his experience he never ran into any buffs that were also firefighters, career or volunteer, so he was being honest. While many buffs held menial jobs, many were professionals who earned much more money than firefighters did.

In addition there are memoirs dealing with personalities that he worked with of both good and indifferent natures. Some of the incidents he writes about I remember from the past and he explains them exactly as I remembered being reported, including the Happy Land Social Club arson fire which resulted in the deaths of many young people. He served in many different neighborhoods in busy and not so busy districts, so he was a well rounded firefighter.

There are a number of black and white photos in the book, most of which are of the fireground, including some which were taken by one of 1st Responder News’ correspondents. All in all it is an interesting book to read!

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John MaleckySenior Columnist

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