The Abington Journal
May 18, 2011
Three generations of stories
by Shauna McNally
SCOTT TWP. - Gary R. Ryman said it is pretty cool to be the “center of the Oreo.” He is the second generation in three generations of firefighters.
“It’s neat because I got to see what it’s like being the son of a firefighter and being the father of one,” said Ryman.
Forty-nine-year-old Ryman just published his first book at the end of April, titled, “Fire Men: Stories from Three Generations of a Firefighting Family.” His book, published by Tribute Books, and edited by Stephanie Longo, took about four and a half years to write and publish, said Ryman.
He currently is set to appear at three book signings scheduled in the local area and New York. The first will be May 20, at Maiolatesi Wine Cellars on Green Grove Road in Scott Township from 6 to 10 p.m., in conjunction with the Justus Volunteer Fire Company Wine Tasting Fundraiser. The second will take place June 5 at Kristofor’s in Endicott, N.Y. And the third, June 24 at Tiffany’s Tap and Grill on Main Street in Eynon from 6 to 9 p.m.
The book tells the stories of events that he, his father Richard Ryman and his son, Michael Ryman experienced throughout their years with fire departments. Some of the stories are funny, while others are very tragic.
Ryman explained, “It’s a book for everyone. Everyone can get something out of it, even people who aren’t involved with fire services at all.”
Ryman is originally from Endicott, N.Y., where he started with a fire company in 1977 at 16. He then attended the University of Maryland, where he was a “live in” or “bunker” at the fire department in Montgomery County, Md. That meant he was allowed to live there free of charge, but was always on call. The fire department he worked for received about 1,500 calls per year. However, now his son is a “live in” in Maryland as well, and his fire station gets about 9,000 calls per year.
“It was tough doing that with being in school,” said Ryman. “There was probably only one night a week where I actually slept eight hours.”
Ryman has worked on the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) side of the business and on the fire fighting side as well . During his time in fire services, he served as fire chief, so he has seen it all. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in fire science, he moved to Scott Township, where he worked for the fire department for 25 years and currently lives with his wife, Michelle Ryman, and their two children, Michael, 19 and Megan, 17. Ryman still goes on calls occasionally.
Ryman said, “I don’t go a lot anymore. It’s a lot easier for the younger guys to be on the inside of a burning building.”
On why he decided to write a book, Ryman said, “I thought there were some interesting stories, and I started." One story Ryman shared from the book was about a family friend who experienced a small kitchen fire in her house. Home at the time was a girl of 16 or 17, Ryman said, and instead of contacting the fire department she called Ryman. Luckily, the blaze did not get out of control and they later laughed about the situation. Ryman said the social media website Facebook has been useful in publicizing his book. His publisher also created a website at www.Fire-Men-Book.com.
“Fire Men: Stories from Three Generations of a Firefighting Family,” at 280 pages, is available from Tribute Books online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for $10.95 and as an e-book. However, Ryman does not think any local bookstores have picked it up yet because it is hot off the presses.