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on 25 November 2015
Excellent once you start you have to keep reading.I knew the Author well whilst in the London Fire Brigade and he has been honest in his observations and the Chapter on New York Firefighters was good I wonder how they would deal with the Health and Safety at Work act out there.Enjoy your retirement Mr Grice good read and good value for money compared with other books similar on sale.
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on 23 August 2013
I found the authors accounts of incidents to be written well enough and he is modest enough in detailing the exploits of his colleagues rather than those of himself. My one "gripe", if that's the right word, concerns Mr Grice's concentration on major fires/incidents from his time as a fireman. Whilst these are necessary for inclusion in any book of this kind I would also have preferred a chapter or two on the mundane day-to day life of a London fireman in the 70's, and the various types of non-emergency fires/incidents attended by the Brigade over the course of a year. That said, this book would a useful addition to the collection of those who, like myself, have an interest in the history and work of the Fire Brigade.
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on 23 October 2015
Great book didn't want to put it down spoilt only by his use of "posh" words that didn't quite fit with the rest of the book as if he was trying to be someone he wasn't, but a great and honest account of fire fighting in 70s.
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on 21 March 2014
As a retired fire officer who trained at the L.F.B in 1971 it brought back memories. The author is so right that the Health and Safety has damaged the Fire Service beyond recognition. Read it to see how firemen used to deal with incidents.
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on 12 January 2013
A fascinating insight into the Fire Service of the past. The atmosphere of the less glamorous districts of London in the 1970s is vividly brought to life in the descriptive and compelling narrative. One can only admire the bravery and dedication of all the firefighters who risked their lives to serve the community over the years. Along with the other emergency services, their service is a vocation rather than a job.
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on 26 November 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping read which I found difficult to put down.
Hard to imagine this job before the advances in technology and health and safety, but with his vivid details and accounts of emergencies you can be transported back to life as a fire fighter in the 70's.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this era and/or the role of the fire fighter during this time.
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on 2 January 2013
I was a firefighter in London during the 70's, reading this book brought back a lot of old memories about the how the job was back then......
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on 27 January 2014
I enjoyed Allan Grice's book about fire-fighting in inner London.

Broadly set in the East End (although including Islington in that definition is stretching things a bit) during the mid-70s it provides a window into a time when serious, fatal fires were a much more common occurrence than today. The combination of cramped, poor-quality housing and portable paraffin heaters seems to have been a deadly one, and you can only admire the bravery and fortitude of the fire crews dealing with such incidents, often using equipment which (by the standards of today) sounds to have been both uncomfortable and occasionally rather primitive (e.g. the hook ladder).

It is also clear how much respect Allan had for his forebears, the 'smoke-eaters' who survived not just a life of fire, but also the Blitz on London. There also is a terrific link in the book to the classic Report From Engine Company 82.

The book has a very conversational tone and is rather lyrical - the drawback to this is that Allan's sentences can seem rather endless, filled as they are with asides, analogies and the author's musings. This wasn't a massive problem in the audio book, but might make the text version a bit long-winded in places.

The book could have perhaps been edited rather better. There are some discussions which are repeated at different points within the text (this may reflect the fact that some of the material has been published before). This includes quite a bit of consideration of health and safety culture; whilst Allan has certainly earned a right to his opinion, the sheer number of times which the subject is revisited (both through his own voice and those of his cast of colleagues) meant that the subject started to become tedious.

Finally - the audio book narrator is terrific and able to take off at various times convincing yorkshire, irish, and cockney accents.
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on 30 October 2012
This book by Allan Grice has highlighted the qualities necessary, as the Officer-in-Charge of a local Fire Station. This lonely role of management, in an emergency service, has for the first time been revealed. He has uniquely, combined in his revelation's, a series of sensitive observations on the environment & social conditions, of the locality in which he was based. A compilation of his fire-fighting experiences in the 70's, but they are still relevant to our times.

An individual in charge of the 'first attendance' at a fire or otherwise, will have the lone 'immediacy of decision and responsibility' thrust upon them. The efficiency in dealing with such a situation and its successful outcome, will be dependent on those initial decisions of that person. Allan Grice has endeavoured to portray, from his experiences, the awesome responsibility for positive decision and actions which is required in any serious emergency situation, particularly where life is at risk.

One can only imagine the rapid but diciplined actions that might be required of a 'fire & rescue officer' on first arrival at a motorway incident. This may have occurred in the hours of darkness, during early morning 'rush hour' or in bad weather.

The scene can be occasionally viewed on our TV screens, as a tangled mass of cars, lorries & other commercial vehicles. The viewer will not be aware of the smell of diesel & petrol leaking from ruptured fuel tanks. Nor, the cries for help from persons trapped in their vehicles, plus stunned & shocked persons waiting close-by for assistance and reassurance. Any one of us driving on a major road could be involved in such a scenario, within seconds. It is such a person as portrayed by Allan Grice, on whom we would depend for assistance.

Surely, this is a book that must be read by those contemplating a career in the Fire & Rescue Service. Any other reader will find the accounts of rescues and fire-fighting both thrilling & enthralling. It is a good read, as well as being a tribute to all our firefighters.
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on 4 November 2015
A very personal account of a young provincial fireman's life after he had transferred to the capitals busy fire brigade at a time when calls and incidents were at an all time high. So well written that you believe that you are with him every step of the way.
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