I grew up across from a firehouse. When the siren wailed in our suburban New Jersey town, the volunteer firefighters scrambled to park their cars and leap over a wooden fence to the garage doors. The candy-apple red fire engine would rumble out within minutes. Our local firefighters hung onto the truck as they took off to save the day. This spectacle never got old, no matter my age, but only now do I appreciate how the firefighting tradition crosses generations.
One firefighter I admired lived three houses from ours, so he dashed to the firehouse on foot. John Donohue dropped out of high school at 16 and lied about his age to join the Navy during the Korean War. He served the Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Department for 21 years, during which he rescued two firefighters trapped in a burning diner and later served as fire chief. He frequented events at the firehouse long after his retirement in 1981.
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