August 15, 2011
A Book Review - Fire Men by Gary Ryman
by LaDonna Harris
About the book:
Having served over thirty years in fire departments across three states, Gary R. Ryman brings a unique perspective to the firefighting experience. The son and father of firefighters, Ryman ignites the fire, smoke, blood and fear spanning three generations of the "family business." He recounts his early days in upstate New York learning from his father, the department fire chief. He describes the blazes he battled with a career and volunteer crew in the crowded suburbs of Washington, D.C. He examines the mentoring relationship established with his son as they respond to the calls of a volunteer department in rural Pennsylvania. Overall, Ryman shares both the personal and professional turning points that define a firefighting career.
Gary R. Ryman is the second of three generations of firefighters. He has a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science from the University of Maryland and has been employed as a fire protection engineer for over twenty-five years. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in American History. Ryman is married with two children. His oldest son makes up the third generation of firefighters in his family, which makes him feel both old and young at the same time.
My husband has been a volunteer fire fighter for 7 or 8 of the last 10 years, on two different fire departments. He also worked oilfield safety as a fire-watch fire fighter. When Tribute Books approached me about doing a review of this book, I couldn’t wait to get my paws on the book!
I have loved every story, felt emotions along with the fire men, felt his mother’s anxiety as she waited to hear word on this or that situation. I found myself coming to a better understanding of what my husband experiences when he goes out on these calls, when he experiences these injuries. My husband is not open about feelings and experiences. Part of this could be to spare me stress and worry, and partly just to cope with the job itself. I understand better his love for the job, his adrenaline rush when the pager tones and the let down of that rush when he arrives home, safe.
This book is a must read for anyone wanting to understand what our fire fighters and their families experience in their day to day lives. It’s not just for fire wives or fire parents. Fire wives already get it a little bit, but for any fire wives (past or present) reading, this book will give you a deeper insight, that your fire fighter may not give you.
I know our department (probably many other departments out there do) has a number of women fire fighters as well. This book is from a man’s perspective (three generations of fire men); I’d love to have input from my own gender on how this job affects them, too, in comparison to the men we know.