Research is Key, Even for a Fiction Novel

Not everyone can write a book and there were many times I didn’t think I could, nor would I finish. I remember having a dream one night and said I’m going to write about firefighters, but I knew nothing about them. I know before you say it . . . I’m not a groupie and I’m happily married. The men behind the uniform are so, so much more than eye-candy.

My journey started with my husband donating food for years from his restaurant to the perseverance fund and charity events for families of fallen firefighters and asking the local fire authority if I could interview one of them for my trashy romance novel (his words not mine)1

They offered to do better than that and invited me to follow them for a shift. I did – nervously, but my hubby was being a poo-poo and after thirteen hours told me to come home. Darn, what was his problem? HA! I hadn’t even had the cherry pie they made me for dessert. Yes, I rode in the big bad fire truck. I followed as they assisted medical calls, car accidents. I visited several stations, their quarters. I went up in the platform as they raised the latter taller than the buildings around us. They wouldn’t let me go down the fire pole, but I did take a few Kodak moments of them going down the pole.

The ride along was only the beginning of my writing journey. I observed several shifts with two different departments, interviewed a handful of firefighters and one day one of the firefighters paid my way to go to the citizen fire academy. He became a family friend and years later became my “go to guy.” Going through the fire academy was one of the best experiences of my life.

I can say I learned so much in the classes, learning all sorts of important terms. Fire safety, CPR re-certification. I suited up in eighty pounds of bunker gear, including the tanks, mask and defibulator, helmet and belly crawled through agility courses, went into a controlled burn that was so intense most of the men in the citizen class held their breaths watching the firestorm flashover as their masks bubbled. The temperature was so intense that metal from my bra blistered my skin under our protective gear. Firefighters surrounded, trained and protected us as our safety was their number one job we learned hand signals and crawled out of the building, as steam rolled off us .We carried heavy hoses and equipment and put out a fire. I admit it’s scary, I cracked open a car with the cutters and spreaders, also known as the jaws of life. Went under a bus as we stabilized it with chock blocks and raised it. They only thing I wished I did was repel off a building which we were scheduled for, but the winds and weather were not safe that evening. We helped in a save including carrying a heavy mannequin in a stokes basket.

I will forever have wicked respect for all first responders. Be ultimately grateful for my experiences with them. Thank you for your service and dedication.

Leave a Comment