My crew at Engine 33 had a few nicknames. Since four out of five of us went from 220 to 300 lbs, we were called the biggest crew in the city. Someone else called us, the fighting-est crew because we if we didn’t have anybody else to bicker with, we would do it with ourselves. My good friend Joe Coit, one of the best fighters I ever met, told me another story: Three of us were arguing at a fire with somebody for some unknown reason. Someone from another crew watched this and wanted to intervene and play peacemaker. Another firefighter told him, “You better leave them alone. They don’t even like each other.”

Time is fickle. It might steal your strength and gray your hair, but sometimes it allows you to laugh at the grievances and savor the good times. What helps is if you started out with pride in your job and concern for the citizens we served and yes, even love for each other.

I came from blue collar, hard working people: from my parents and family, the neighborhood I grew up in, and the men and women I worked with for over forty years. I have seen them when they are honest and wise and gracious as well as stupid and petty. They built me, they built Buffalo and all of America. I want to tell their stories.

And from the firehouse come some of the best stories. There you find regular folks who argue with their spouses and have to watch their cholesterol and are late on their credit card payments, and you get to watch them rise to heroic heights.

Torch Light will be dedicated to the Big Dawgs, which is the nickname for crew, past and present, of Engine 33.

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