Friday, April 29, 2011

From Chapter One - A Family of Firefighters

After that, Dad became an efficiency expert’s dream. Clothes were carefully laid out on the bureau each night before bedtime. Keys, glasses, and cigarettes were strategically positioned. The most radical idea was yet to come: an automatic garage door opener. Those were unheard of in our neighborhood, but Dad took it to the next level. Most garage door openers, even today, have the button that activates them in the garage next to the car. That wasn’t enough for Dad. He put an additional button in the closet in the bedroom which allowed him to hit the button while getting dressed. The garage door would already be open when he reached the garage, saving a good five seconds. A NASCAR pit crew would be impressed with his speed out of the house. When I was about eleven-years-old, we moved to a new house in a nearby neighborhood. One of the first things wired in was the activation button for the garage door opener in the closet of the master bedroom.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From the Introduction

I explained what had happened and that I was in the hospital.

“You burned?” Dad asked.

“No, but I’m not sure why,” I answered.

“Are you going to call home later?”

“Yeah,” I responded.

“Just be real cool when you do,” he instructed.

Dad only worked about a mile from the house and usually came home for lunch every day. I figured he would tell my mother about it then. At about five p.m. that day, when the long distance rates changed, I called them. That’s when I learned that he hadn’t said a word to her. He wasn’t stupid. He knew how she’d react.

She started yelling, “Your father’s been doing this for over twenty years and this never happened to him.” My “yes, but” answers weren’t doing very well. I knew it was worry and concern on her part, but that wasn’t making my explanation any easier. Over the next few phone calls, the volume went down but the butt-chewing continued.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gary's Acknowledgments

This book could not exist if it weren’t for the time and dedication of hundreds of firefighters. The stories herein are based on my best recollections and I have attempted to tell them as accurately as possible. There is no doubt that some participants may recall some aspects differently; any errors in that regard are solely mine. Names, with very few exceptions, have been changed and the stories are mainly, but not entirely, chronological.

Every firefighter will notice some incidents in which accepted standards and practices for safety and use of personal protective equipment are violated. They are related in this way simply because that is how it happened and they are not to be taken as an example of proper firefighting technique; as my son, Mike, regularly tells me–“You can’t do it that way anymore, Dad.”

I would also like to thank the Endless Mountains Writers Group (EMWG) and, in particular, Hildy, Marcus, Jeanne, Carl, Rob, Ann, Eleanor, Mary, Mary and all the other group participants.

I am also grateful to George Navarro for his assistance in locating photographs. The placement of the pictures throughout the book is random. A photo does not necessarily depict an incident described in the corresponding text of a chapter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Read an Excerpt

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.

280 pgs., 5.5" x 8.5"
ISBN 9780982256596


Gary R. Ryman

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 a Masters Degree in American History from American Military University.  He has been employed as a fire protection engineer for over twenty-five years.  Ryman is married with two children. His oldest son makes up the third generation of firefighters in his family, making him feel both old and young at the same time.