The best firehouses are haunted. You can feel the ghosts in the oil stains on the apparatus floor, the soot from exhaust embedded in the ceilings, the old wood soaked with the cigar smoke from long ago Captains, and the footsteps that wore down the tread in the stairs. Rookies hear the stories and the men who used to wear rubber coats and metal helmets seem like gods. Remember the one at the stockyards, or when the chemical infused river burst into flames? Remember when the Commissioner got caught in the Armory fire? Remember the day the ceiling collapsed and we lost a good man? Even when you are advancing a line up the stairs to an attic fire, you feel the spirits of others who walked, or crawled, this way before you.

War has an arsenal of books, TV shows and movies to build myths. Firefighting has a handful of movies and one television show. But mystique is real even if hard to understand.

If I were twenty again I would sign up immediately. But now part of my job as a writer is to share these myths, which are so real to the initiated and awe-inspiring to civilians.

I hope you will enjoy Torch Light. Many old friends acted as my inspiration and to them I tip my helmet.

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