When Report from Engine Co. 82 was first published 25 years ago, Dennis Smith was a New York City firefighter working at a firehouse in the South Bronx that happened to be the busiest firehouse in the world.
His book did what no other book had done before: he showed the world what firefighters are truly like, what kind of work they actually do, the extreme dangers they are continually exposed to, and the superhuman efforts they will undertake to save the life of another human being.
Smith documented the dirty and hard, simultaneously brutalizing and humanizing realities of his chosen profession; he told the stories of the routinely brave, fiercely loyal men he worked with so that the general public would know the dangers that are every firefighter's daily lot and would appreciate the courage firefighters summon from somewhere deep within every single working day.
Dennis Smith's efforts met with spectacular success. Engine Co. 82 became an immediate best seller throughout the United States, selling over 2 million copies in its original edition alone. As Engine Co. 82s reputation and audience grew, the book became known as the American firefighting classic.
Dennis Smith retired from the New York City Fire Department after 18 years of active service. He is the author of ten books, the founder of Firehouse Magazine, and in 2001 resumed writing a column for the magazine.
He is a member of the board of advisors of the Congressional Fire Service Institute and a trustee of the New York Fire Foundation. He founded and is President of the Foundation for the Health and Saftey of American Firefighters. He is also an Honorary Deputy Chief of the New York Fire Department. He lives in New York City and Southampton, NY.