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Working Fire The Making of a Fireman

Zac Unger ☆ 8 READ & DOWNLOAD

18 December 2004 WORKING FIRE THE MAKING OF AN ACCIDENTAL FIREMAN by Zac Unger The Penguin Press March 2004 ISBN 1 59420 001 7 It was once upon a place sometimes I listen to myselfGonna come in first placePeople on their way to work say baby what did you expectGonna burst into flame Talking Heads Burning Down the House Sitting on the hillside I half hoped we d get a good fire to play with that day It s bad form to hope for a fire but we can t help it fire is what we look forward to A fire means that somebody is in danger and may lose his or her life or health A fire means that we e putting ourselves at isk that one of us may get dragged away to the hospital with a broken ankle or smoke inhalation or something worse Fires are categorically a bad thing and we wish for them every day Despite having fond childhood memories of visiting the Hamptons for lazy weeks of hot beach weather it was a adically new experience to spend the winter out there in my own little beach cottage on the sheltered Peconic Bay The combination of constant tides and freezing temperatures esults in the steady build up of enormous untidy piles of ice near the shore Wandering out onto the iceburgs is good clean winter fun as long as you don t go too far out onto thin ice Those colder months also freuently bring screaming winds that tear across the Bay It s nice to have a wood stove for keeping warm as those winds seek to penetrate into the cottage s every little seam and crevice It s getting hot in here Nelly The wind was literally screaming that night and I had packed the stove full of oak before etiring But it was feeling way too hot in the bedroom when I suddenly woke up and crawled out of bed hardly able to breathe Decades later I can still ecall stumbling into the main oom seeing the paneled wall behind the stove fully engulfed in flames screaming anxiously for my dog Slider who was asleep in the little upstairs oom and unning barefoot across frozen grass ocks and sand to my parents house to phone the North Sea volunteer fire department Being lost in a fire is nothing like being lost in the woods There is no almost lost no almost found Just lost Completely and utterly lost And getting lost in a burning building happens immediately I ve been lost in the forest and it s a gradual process a state of mind that you can allow yourself to slip into for a while There s always a feeling of I think I ecognize that tree or I m pretty sure I m moving in the ight direction A smoky oom by contrast is entirely featurelessI could tell that nobody had found the seat of the flames yet because the heat kept getting worse My egulator said that I had a thousand pounds of air left about a uarter of my tank five or ten minutes if I could breathe slowly The privileged son of a psychiatrist and a teacher Zac Unger grew up in a nice neighborhood between Oakland and Bezerkley He d graduated from an elite Oakland prep school earned degrees at Brown and Cal and had spent time on the coast observing the mating habits of elephant seals as well as in a mountainous national park counting peregrine falcons Zac was still trying to figure out what he d do when he grew up when he spotted the advertisement on the back of a bus bench that eventually led him to months at the academy where he trained to be an Oakland fireman I m not uite sure why we spend so much time washing the fire engine everybody always asks I ve owned a ed pickup since I was sixteenand it s never had a wash Except once when another firefighter wet it down behind my back in the firehouse parking lot because he couldn t stand to look at it any I ve alway figured a car is just a way to get from place to place and as long as it uns I don t much care what it looks like But washing the fire engine is the most archetypal fireman thing we do It s what everyone associates us with That and grocery shopping And carrying babies down ladders The eality of Zac s work is actually uite different from those archetypes The majority of the time when Zac and his brother and sister firefighters go screeching out of the firehouse the call does not involve a building on fire WORKING FIRE is a fascinating and lively expose into the world and work of today s professional urban firefighter Zac s paramedic skills are constantly put to the test And for a first s professional urban firefighter Zac s paramedic skills are constantly put to the test And for a first in a city survival can as easily involve escaping shootouts and drunken brawls as it can mean not getting lost in a burning building Heroin overdose is an easy one I put a short tube in his mouth just long enough to tickle the back of his throat and deliver some oxygen One injection of Narcan to his shoulder and then there was nothing to do but use the ventilator bag to breathe for him and wait Narcan goes straight to the chemical eceptors where heroin is eceived and blocks them out True to form for esuscitated junkies in about two minutes our playboy started waking up gagging on the tube and cussing us out for stealing his high Another satisfied customer Almost ablaze still you don t feel the heatIt takes all you got just to stay on the beatYou say it s a livin we all gotta eatBut you e here alone there s no one to competeIf Mercy s a bus ness I wish it for youMore than just ashes when your dreams come true Grateful Dead Fire on the Mountain But besides the well chosen anecdotes that illuminate the dangerous and sometimes deadly calls to fires accidents and unplugged TVs WORKING FIRE is also a look at the stories and colorful personalities of the boys and girls who grow up to become firemen From the brilliant veteran who efuses to etreat to a well earned easy assignment in a hillside station to the great and not so great firehouse cooks to those who don t make the cut at the academy we meet eal characters who are freuently worthy of a starring ole in someone s "contemporary novel Unger whose intellectual pedigree made him a breed ather " novel Unger whose intellectual pedigree made him a breed ather a starring ole in someone s contemporary novel Unger whose intellectual pedigree made him a breed ather from the typical fire department ecruit has found his place among the 42000 pound shining ed machines that go screaming down the oad to answer the call WORKING FIRE is a thoroughly engaging book for all of us who stop in our tracks to watch those engines and trucks go oaring by When the ig is gleaming clean and you step. Zac Unger didn’t feel like much of a fireman at first Most of his fellow ecruits seemed to have planned for the job all their lives; he was an Ivy League grad esponding to an ad at a bus stop He couldn’t keep his boots shined and he looked ter. Off while snugging your helmet onto your head as you kick the ax up smoothly and slip it down into its spot on your hip like a gunslinger It s all worth it then the dead guy in the hallway that morning the petty hassles with admin the pain in your back that seems to be there every day now Because you e a fireman the closest thing there is in this world to being a superhero Richie Partington MLISRichie s Picks Not sure why this got a 39 I found this book Zac s story very enlightening entertaining and well balanced in the sense of the honesty it conveyed about the job and calling of firefighting Great story well told Zac Unger grew up in Oakland California with a desire to escue people He channeled that into scuba diving and studying to become a forest anger until his mother encouraged him to become a firemanRather than telescoping chapters that evolve from one another Working Fire unfolds in a series of essays This makes for some odd jumps in time where the eader senses uite a lot must have happened to get Unger where he was when the story unfolded One of those leaps seems central to the point of the memoirYou would think that a book called Working Fire would be primarily about fire its colors its hungers its beauties and dangers Several fires do appear in the pages of Unger s memoir as breathless set pieces that completely absorb the eader But though Unger continued to work as a fireman at some point he grew bored with waiting for fire to break out He went back for his paramedic certification so that he could actively save the lives of people who d dialed 911 The paradigm shift from saving buildings to saving people is huge but isn t explored in any detail The only training Unger ecounts here is his initial academy experience before joining his first firehouse The point of that story seems to be that one needs to suppress any individuality one has in order to succeed In terms of being a fireman it is an important lesson but doesn t suit the arc of the book as much as exploring how he chose to get his hands bloody might haveThe fires Unger chooses to ecount are strange ones the time he got lost in a smoky basement full of pipes and survived only because the other firemen got the flames put out the fire they couldn t each because the hose was too short a grass fire in the Oakland hills finally a eal battle inside an apartment I would have been happy with story after story about facing fireThat said the most emotionally intense event in the book involves no fire at all Unger s firetruck was summoned to an accident on the Oakland freeways A woman was pinned inside her black luxury car by the engine block in her lap As the firemen struggled to free her Unger crouched bes He crosses himself then kisses his wedding ing and I make a mental note to develop a itual for myself some sort of secular facsimile of prayer that I can use before I go unning into a burning building 2Firefighters are like astronauts or medical doctors to me I m never going to be one and that s just dandy but in the meantime I ll happily ead a whole bunch about themNow as the subtitle suggests Unger didn t expect to be a firefighter He grew up California crunchy went to Deep Springs and Brown for undergrad went to UC Berkeley for a master s degree comes from
a family of 
family of collar workers On his graduation day when he becomes a firefighter he says of his parents that The closest they d ever come to a group of men with badges was the time a troop of National Guardsmen with batons and tear gas had un them out of People s Park in Berkeley 58 Still despite his comments about how much his mother must worry it was she who set him on the path ecognising That He Really Didn he eally didn want to be tied to the desk job that he was heading towardsIs Unger eally so different than his contemporaries Probably not Differences in background yes but as he tells it he basically fit in fine His eservations ease over time he acclimates to the banter and the eality that firefighting is at least 75% non fire elated duties But he spins a good story from the training period to his first fire to later big ones when he is fully trained he gives a great sense of both the overarching situation and what he was going through and learning I loved the way he depicts the senior firefighters constantly ibbing on each other jockeying for the best positions most danger most glory and then when thwarted immediately making a teachable moment out of itThere s not a lot of obvious esearch ie no fact dumping etc but enough background to lend credibility Also to teach this eader andom things did you know that the four criteria for immediate determination of death in the field are decapitation obviously protruding heart or brain decomposition and total incineration page 189 I didn t Sometimes it feels as though he analyses his motivesactions a bit much sometimes a snappy comeback is just a sometimes a snappy comeback is just a comeback and I did conclude that wilderness firefighting interests me considerably than city firefightingbut what can you do Didn t make me any less excited to ead Fighting Fire More firefighting Female Lesbian Don t tell me it s too good to be trueDeep Springs is a two year college in ural California It only has 26 students and is all male and is one of the very few easons I have ever wanted to be male though Wikipedia tells me that it s supposed to start accepting women soon I might have ounded this book up from 35 stars just because I am so fascinated by the idea of Deep Springs which is mentioned only in the author bio Unfortunately a couple searches didn t turn up any eadily accessible books about it My uncle was a fireman I know several firemen Once our house was on fire and the whole crew came and saved it even though it was considered 49% destroyed by the insurance company As part of the general public I thought I mostly knew what fire fighting was about We see it all the time on the local news ight This is a great behind the scenes look at Zac Unger s first three years as a fireman including his time at the academy His wry sense of humor and honest emotion make this into an adventure tale about the actual men who do the job and why they do it I was surprised at the number of NON fire figh. Rible in his uniform Working Fire is the story of how from this unlikely beginning Zac Unger came to feel at home among this close knit tribe came to master his work’s demands and came to know what it is to see the world through a firefighter’s. .
Femmes, si vous saviez... : 83 questions-rponses, hormones, mnopause, ostoporose Au bagne The Kaya-Girl Indistractable Jacques Prevert
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Ting uns they take with their engines If you enjoy true life exploits you would like this book Solid ead Solid ead I was lucky to have a chance to serve a city for almost 5 years It took me back and made me miss it even Since my husband is a firefighter I ve ead uite a few books on the subject I mostly ead them because I find they e all over the house they wouldn t normally be my first choice Compared to other firefighting books this is 5 stars Working Fire stands out because it eads like it was written by an honest to God paycheck earning author not just a firefighter who has some good stories to tell I can t emember the last time I ead a book that is this well written The author IS a firefighter though I m sure of it because of the accuracy in his descriptions of the daily life mindset and language I mean sometimes I turned to my husband and we laughed at how spot on he was His descriptions are efreshing thoughtful and often funny I d like to meet Zac Clever The book fighting fire The making of a Fireman By Zac Unger was very interesting and never once did I find it to be boring or bland I loved how the book used a lot of imagery so that the eader almost felt as if the experience was for eal and could eally depict what was going on I also loved how action packed the book was with the narrator always attending to a big fire or an emergency call in nearly every chapter What I disliked about the book was the epetition of the narrator explaining why he wanted to be a firefighter and what he has to do He does this multiple times from the start to the beginning and after a while it gets a bit boring What also stood out to me was when in chapter 15 the narrator eveals that a well known firefighter that he knew was killed in a fire What amazed me was how the narrator was able to make me feel sympathy for the firefighter who was killed because of how he described him Some parts that confused me was when at a fire the narrator would use all of these different machinery that I had no idea what they were or what they were used for This book eally answers the uestion of what does it mean to be an American In the book the narrator always describes why he chose the job and what it means to serve the public For example in Chapter 15 the narrator describes I made a deal when I took this job I swore an oath to the citizens of Oakland We e always careful suicide is not heroic But the essence of my job will never change My life for theirs my health for their safety This shows what does it mean it be an American because he serves and protects the people of his community He puts everyone else before himself which shows he is a true American A uote that supports my book eview is in chapter 16 When a firefighter dies it doesn t matter what city he worked for just that he did the work we all do took the same isks kissed his sleeping wife good bye in the morning and never let himself think for a second that it would be the last time he d ever do it This shows what sacrifices firefighters have to make and what it takes to be a "firefighter i would ecommend this book to high " I would ecommend this book to high because it is a fun ead and also very action packed and interesting I also ecommend it to high schoolers because if anyone is considering a job as a firefighter it would be a good ead because it explains and portrays what the life of a firefighter eally is like A good book that peels back the curtain a bit on what it s like to be a firefighter The author looks at the parts the public doesn t see and does a good job of sharing the good the bad and the ugly sides of being a firefighter Good ead Unlike most of the other firefighting books I ve ead this one focuses almost exclusively on the training period Unger had while learning the opes of firefighting as the book title suggests He is a ookie throughout so even once he finishes the training academy his experiences working in a firehouse are peppered with lessons and words of advice from his colleagues A good portion of the early book is focused on the training academy for firefighters in Oakland CA While Unger describes himself as an accidental fireman in the title and backs it up by saying he learned about the opportunity from a flyer in a bus stop he was a young guy who seemed to have done a few odd jobs here and there during and since college but I could see how those experiences could steer a man towards a career in firefighting Compared to his fellow trainees at the academy Unger also didn t come with a family pedigree the latest in many generations of firefighters instead growing up in a white collar Jewish family and graduating from an exclusive private high school in Oakland instead of the ougher public ones that most of the others came from so he feels like an outsider at first but once all the gear is on the job is the sameUnger talks a little bit about his first firehouse where he eally didn t fit in if for no other eason than to contrast it with the firehouse where he did most of his training and found the bond common among groups of firemen and women There he found guys committed to their jobs and each other as well as the occasional commander who demonstrated how NOT to lead his men so both this good and the bad shaped him as he went out onto each call Unger expressed how few of his calls were for actual fires that many people picture the job of a firefighter involving instead doing many medical calls false alarms wildfires and fires where the building involved was either too far gone to do anything but let burn to the ground or small such that only the first men on the scene were needed to attack it He also addresses the tragedy of losing one of his fellow firefighters a guy he barely knew but learned a lot from in the short time they Spent Together In A together in a collapse and the outpouring of support the fire department experienced at his funeralOverall it was an enjoyable uick ead I would have liked a few photos to be able to see the faces of the brave men and women he describes and some of the euipment because it s a lot easier to comprehend what he means when he talks about 6 people needed to operate a 50 foot ladder if there is a picture of said people working with the ladder. Eyes From the aw material of his days’ work alarm calls both harrowing and hilarious moments of triumph and grief Unger has forged a timeless story of finding one’s path and a ousing adventure about the bravery and sacrifice of everyday heroes.