Zac Unger: Working Fire The Making of a Fireman



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Er really is like He crosses himself then kisses his wedding ring and I make a mental note to develop a ritual for myself some sort of secular facsimile of prayer that I can se before I go running into a burnin Zac Unger grew A Wedding at the Italians Demand up in Oakland California with a desire to rescue people He channeled that into scuba diving and studying to become a forest rangerntil his mother encouraged him to become a firemanRather than telescoping chapters that evolve from one another Working Fire Transformed Into the Frenchmans Mistress (The Hudsons of Beverly Hills, unfolds in a series of essays This makes for some odd jumps in 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 thegly sides of being a firefighter Good read My A Perfect Evil (Maggie ODell, 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 right 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 fighting runs they take with their engines If you enjoy true life exploits you would like this book 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 oncepon 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 re putting ourselves at risk that one of The Wedding in White (The Men of Medicine Ridge, 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 radically 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 results in the steady buildp of enormous The Executives Vengeful Seduction (Australian Millionaires, 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 retiring But it was feeling way too hot in the bedroom when I suddenly wokep and crawled out of bed hardly able to breathe Decades later I can still recall stumbling into the main room seeing the paneled wall behind the stove fully engulfed in flames screaming anxiously for my dog Slider who was asleep in the little pstairs room and running barefoot across frozen grass rocks 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 tterly 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 recognize that tree or I m pretty sure I m moving in the right direction A smoky room by contrast is entirely featurelessI could tell that nobody had found the seat of the flames yet because the heat kept getting worse My regulator said that I had a thousand pounds of air left about a arter of my tank five or ten minutes if I could breathe slowly The privileged son of a psychiatrist and a teacher Zac Unger grew p in a nice neighborhood between Oakland and Bezerkley He d graduated from an elite Oakland prep school earned degrees at Brown and Cal Rible in his The Kings Sister uniform Working Fire is the story of how from thisnlikely 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.

Unlike most of the other firefighting books I ve read this one focuses almost exclusively on the training period Unger had while learning the ropes of firefighting as the book title suggests He is a rookie 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 The Cattlemans Ready-Made Family 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 growingp in a white collar Jewish family and graduating from an exclusive private high school in Oakland instead of the rougher 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 really didn t fit in if for no other reason 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 Solid read Solid read 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 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 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 sed a lot of imagery so that the reader almost felt as if the experience was for real and could really 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 repetition 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 reveals 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 se all of these different machinery that I had no idea what they were or what they were The Year of the Beast used for This book really answers theestion 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 re 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 ote that supports my book review 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 risks 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 recommend this book to high schoolers because it is a fun read and also very action packed and interesting I also recommend it to high schoolers because if anyone is considering a job as a firefighter it would be a good read because it explains and portrays what the life of a firefight. Zac Unger didn’t feel like much of a fireman at first Most of his fellow recruits seemed to have planned for the job all their lives; he was an Ivy League grad responding to an ad at a bus stop He couldn’t keep his boots shined and he looked ter.

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Nd 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 p 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 The Bride In Law uite sure why we spend so much time washing the fire engine everybody always asks I ve owned a red 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 runs 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 associatess with That and grocery shopping And carrying babies down ladders The reality of Zac s work is actually Lhéritier des Drakos 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 professionalrban firefighter Zac s paramedic skills are constantly put to the test And for a first responder 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 The Italians Christmas Housekeeper/The Baby The Billionaire Demands/The Innocents Shock Pregnancy/Sheikhs Secret Love-Child (Secret Heirs of Billionaires Book 18) use the ventilator bag to breathe for him and wait Narcan goes straight to the chemical receptors where heroin is received and blocks them out True to form for resuscitated junkies in about two minutes our playboy started wakingp gagging on the tube and cussing This Soul Magic 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 re 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 andnplugged TVs WORKING FIRE is also a look at the stories and colorful personalities of the boys and girls who grow The Ex Who Hired Her up to become firemen From the brilliant veteran who refuses to retreat 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 real characters who are freuently worthy of a starring role in someone s contemporary novel Unger whose intellectual pedigree made him a breed rather different from the typical fire department recruit has found his place among the 42000 pound shining red machines that go screaming down the road to answer the call WORKING FIRE is a thoroughly engaging book for all ofs who stop in our tracks to watch those engines and trucks go roaring by When the rig is gleaming clean and you step off while snugging your helmet onto your head as you kick the ax Testing the Limits 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 re a fireman the closest thing there is in this world to being a superhero Richie Partington MLISRichie s Picks Since my husband is a firefighter I ve readite a few books on the subject I mostly read them because I find they re 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 reads 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 remember the last time I read 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 refreshing thoughtful and often funny I d like to meet Zac Clever. Eyes From the raw 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 rousing adventure about the bravery and sacrifice of everyday heroes.