The word firefighter isn’t quite right, at least in my case. I’m a “pro-fire firefighter.” I’m not really with the Department to put the fires out, but just to have access to them. I wasn’t one of those kids that always knew he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up, but I’ve always been fascinated by fire. I remember when I was just a little kid, we—my parents and I—lived in a one room house in the Catskills, and some nights in the winters my parents would make a fire and sit me down in front of it while they went and, you know, did it in the bed behind me. So it’s always been there, my love of fire, ever since I can remember. And I really do love my job; I just hate doing it.
When I started working for the MFD, I would drive really slowly to whatever fire I was dispatched to. Back then I thought that if I was the last one there, I would get to see the fire when it was at its largest—I wanted to be able to see the house burning from a few streets away. But usually, by the time I got there, the fire would be more or less out. The other guys really are there to put the fires out, I guess. So I would see a lot of smoke, but that was more or less it.
Now I’m the first one there every time. There’s nothing I like more than those two or three minutes when I’m alone and I get to lean against my truck and watch the tongues of flame flickering. Usually I’m sweating a little bit. Some people find walks on the beach romantic—me, I think nothing’s sexier than a house on fire at twilight. If I had a wife, I’d bring her with me every time. But it’s great by myself—at least until the other guys show up. They don’t even stop to appreciate it;they just roll out the hoses and start spraying.
You know, I do understand how some people might see me in a negative light, but I don’t agree with that. To me it’s all about how you come at your job—attitude and all that, you know? When people tell me I’m not doing my job right, usually I don’t say much, but I think about those Freedom Fighters. They weren’t fighting against freedom—they were fighting for it. That’s not necessarily justification for how I do my job, but it is interesting to consider, at least I think so.
Anyway, I just like watching shit burn.