- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805071695
- ISBN-13: 978-0805071696
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last Men Out: Life on the Edge at Rescue 2 Firehouse Hardcover – June 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Deputy Chief Ray Downey, the most highly decorated firefighter in the history of the FDNY, died during the World Trade Center rescue operations, but months earlier, he had arranged for his nephew, filmmaker Tom Downey, to make a documentary on the emergency experts of Brooklyn's Rescue Company No. 2, the "most active firefighting unit in the city." After the completed film, Still Riding: Rescue Company New York City, aired on September 11, 2002, Tom Downey continued his research, writing about firefighters for the New York Times. For this book, he follows the efforts of the new captain, Phil Ruvolo, to take command and establish a rapport with his men. Interweaving the history and lore of landmark fires with daily chores and rituals, Downey recreates the firehouse's kitchen table banter and sardonic humor. He probes the physical toll and psychological problems firefighters experience, along with the job's dangers: "Crawling in for a job, a fireman would feel the linoleum, think it was safe to enter, and then fall through." Limning individual personalities and capturing the company's camaraderie with amusing anecdotes, Downey's descriptions burn into the pages with searing intensity. Writing with verve and energy in a gritty style, he explores all extremes of the firemen's world, from triumphant moments of heroism to bitter tragedies. The concluding chapters document 9/11 and its aftermath from the firemen's point of view: the "horrible losses" resulting in a massive shortage of qualified firefighters to fill the ranks of the rescue and squad companies.
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Downey's father and uncles were firemen, and the late chief Ray Downey, an uncle, was in command of Brooklyn's Rescue 2 for 14 years. Rescue 2 firefighters are experts in every kind of emergency; if you are trapped under a train, pinned in a car wreck, or buried in a building collapse, these are the people with the tools and the knowledge to save your life. The author lived in the firehouse for months, spending night shifts cruising the borough with them. He had just started to work on the book when the 9/11 disaster struck, but most of it deals with the years before that tragic event. He profiles several of the firefighters and their families; he lets us in on their taste for practical jokes and the merciless hazing that recruits face, as well as the make-work chores they carry out between fires. And he explains the procedures in fighting a fire and defines firehouse jargon, all of which adds to an intimate look at the daily lives of veteran firefighters. George Cohen
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