I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately, and I’m glad I got to include this one on my reading list!
Ok, so this was not what I would normally choose to read, probably because I don’t know much about firefighters. I think that was the big appeal, though; I wanted an inside look, and the FDNY in particular had me fascinated.
Five Floors Up is basically a social history of the fire department in NYC, but it has the Feehan family front and center. The Feehans have served in the FDNY for four generations, and they’re still going.
The book delves into the department’s beginnings (with horse-drawn trucks!) and takes you through New York’s most difficult times, from when the Bronx was perpetually burning in the 1970s, to the horrors of 9/11. Throughout all of that, a Feehan has been in the thick of it. The book highlights William M. Feehan’s career in particular, as he’s the only person in the FDNY to have held every rank. He died on Sept 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center attack along with hundreds of other firefighters.
Aside from an in-depth look at the Feehan family, Five Floors Up opens up the world of the firefighter clan—the courage of both the ones walking into burning buildings and the families who support them. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re at all interested in the history of the FDNY. I didn’t think I was—but I found this book fascinating. I got a closer look at everyday heroism, and it made me grateful for the people in our society who put their lives on the line every day, for strangers’ sakes.
I’m grateful to Grand Central Publishing for the gifted copy.