on 3 December 2006
Ray Chilton's book 'Underfire' is a gripping and honest recollection of life as a London Fireman. From the first page you are drawn in to a world where firefighting, cameraderie and leadership inspire this man to be part of a unique group of men and women who work in London's West End. Ray's detailed account of incidents and honest reflections on the people, and the struggle to manage one of London's most demanding stations is touching, outrageously funny at times but always shrouded by the dangers, losses and emotions that make him and the job demand our respect and gratitude for 30 years of dedication.
on 15 January 2007
Here at last is a cracking autobiography by a fireman that encompasses every aspect of the human condition as encountered by firemen all over the world on a daily basis, from deeply moving tragedy, intense personal bravery, via hilarious hi-jinks, to the darker side of terrorism, riots and even sexual depravity.
It is also a book about leadership. Through his very revealing text Ray gives insight into the mysterious art of leading men, resolving conflicts, team building, helping men through grief and personal loss. It reminds us where modern leadership has mostly lost its way. It is an inspirational read and should appeal to a wide audience way beyond fire-fighters.
Ray also shows what a barmy world modern public service organisations are - political correctness gone mad; hopeless middle and senior management in all its most depressing glory; dreadful decision making being imposed on the front line firemen and the ever-present management disease of ignoring good advice when it comes up from the shop-floor.
For people who appreciate the `life in the fire service' genre of book, there are many predecessors on their shelves - Arthur Nicholls' "Going To Blazes", Gordon Honeycomb's "Red Watch", Neil Wallington's "Fireman!" but no previous author has been as honest, forthright and insightful as Ray Chilton. He really tells it like it is. There are hundreds of marvellous stories of the amazing adventurous life Ray has led in the London Fire Brigade, where more than half his professional life was as Station Officer at Soho Fire Station in Central London.
on 6 February 2007
This book is fantastic. It goes underneath the p.c gone mad and media smoke screen presented by the London Fire Brigade and is an honest, gritty, funny and sometimes very emotional account of life with the London Fire Brigade at its busiest station, soho. If you are a firefighter, enthusiast or just curious, this book will get you hooked and you wont want it to end. Fantastic
on 7 March 2007
This book gives a fascinating insight into the life and work of London firemen. It is a wonderful account that sees the author struggle between the love of the job and his fellow firemen against the pressures of the Brigade and the physical and emotional toll that 30 years of service takes on a person. For me, the book's interest lies not just in what drives this group of ordinary people to do extraordinary things but also in the author's passion and knowledge of London. Don't make the mistake of thinking this book is just for firemen, but be warned that you will never look at a fire engine in the same way again!
on 12 January 2007
Very enjoyable read and written by a really nice bloke!. I was surprised to find this book as I was unaware that "Station Officer Chilton" was a budding author! Nice front cover photo...remember the job well.
on 5 February 2008
This is a 'warts & all' version of one mans 30 years service in the LFB, mostly about his time serving at Soho Fire Station. It is obvious that the author is not a professional writer & the story is at times rambling & tends to hop about from era to era & Station to Station so you frequently wonder where you are chronologically. In addition it is liberally laced with Fire Service jargon & terminology and therefore it helps if the reader is a firefighter themselves or have a good understanding of the job. Nevertheless it is a fascinating read for anyone. It details what it is like to be a modern day firefighter in a refreshingly honest way devoid of corporate propoganda, management doublespeak, political correctness & 'spin'. What shines through the narrative is the huge love Ray has for London,the LFB, Soho & its Fire Station, his various Watches & the individuals that he worked with. Ray was clearly an exceptional Manager, Leader of men, Incident Commander & Firefighter. He is also immensely proud of his achievements and justifiably so. What he has achieved other men could only dream of. Ultimately it is a sad tale of a man who has to finish doing the work that he loves because that work was a demanding mistress & sapped his health. This book should be required reading for those aspiring to managerial positions in any walk of life & for lesser men who would sit at desks & dream up 'cost saving' measures & 'efficiency' savings.
on 30 December 2007
A fantastic read! I read this in one evening as once I started I couldnt put it down. This book isnt just for firefighters put for everyone...it is as if you are sitting with Mr Chilton and he is telling you his story. This book lets you see what life is exactly like as a firefighter,the characters on the watches,the shouts,station life and the highs and the lows of the job. Anyone who has read Red Watch will already be familiar with his name and he does devote a chapter on his involvement with that incident. Well done Station Officer,a cracker of a book.
on 17 October 2007
I really enjoyed this boook, in my opinion it is heart felt/ humerous and well written, some books recounting stories from our uniform services are of a repetative theme or allow the author to brag. This is a personal account of over thirty years service from a professional fireman and a well respected officer. Hopefully, this will help make people become aware, what the fire service does for them everyday.
on 14 January 2008
This book has the lot.
Written honestly and from the heart, Ray has served London for five decades (60's - 00's)and encompasses what its like to go from a fireman and through the ranks to a Station Officer serving fire stations in inner London, and finally to his spiritual home of Soho, Cental London. One of the busiest fire stations in the world.
It covers a whole range of incidents,The dramatic, The famous, The ghastly and The humouress,( and the routine) which touch upon all human emotions, Exciting, Sad and the funny. An insight into the real gritty day to day life of a modern day fireman.
What shines through more than anything in this book is his loyalty, To the service, to the London public, and to the men and women who served with him,who you feel admired him for his Knowledge, experieance, integrity and common sense.
This is a must read for anyone who has an interest in the finest public service in Britain.
on 3 February 2008
I've known Ray Chilton for many years and it's been an absolute pleasure to read his account of life at Soho. I know how proud he was to be a fireman and although I've known that he's done lots of heroic things, he rarely refers to them which shows what a modest old b-----r he really is!
He's been a great friend to me and like the other reviewers i think he's done a first rate job of really telling it like it is - I'm delighted that he called it Under Fire rather than Ray the Fireman which sounds like an episode of the Teletubbies! You're a great man guv and everybody should go and buy this - it's one hell of a read!