Hundreds of photographs highlight the pages of a new book devoted to documenting the history, duty and dedication of the Terre Haute Fire Department.

Firefighter and author Bill Berry has written the book "Terre Haute's Bravest" as not only a history of THFD, but also to educate the public about firefighting as a profession.

The book is a long-time in the writing. Berry said he began the project during the term of Mayor Judy Anderson. He has set it aside from time to time, but has been pushing himself to complete it during recent months.

"Historians will like it, and kids will enjoy it," Berry said recently, during some down time at Station 3 located at 13th and Chase streets. He has been a firefighter for about 20 years, since the early 1990s, so he knows many of the firefighters.

"My stories are coming from the words of the firefighters who were on the particular scenes," Berry said. He has been contacting firefighters and asking them what they saw on the scene and what actions they took.

"It's the truth of what transpired from the men's mouths themselves," Berry said.

Some of the anecdotes in the book are what he calls “Firehouse Funny Stories” about actual events that occurred around various fire stations. Some of them are a bit embarassing to the people involved, he said, but not in a bad way.

A section of the book recalls the 12 firefighters who have died in the line of duty. It also includes a section on the paramedic service and hazmat teams that have been added to the department over time.

There is a big section on 9/11, and how the department had 15 firefighters set to go to the East Coast to assist. They were called off before leaving because of the overwhelming response that had already arrived at Ground Zero. But, THPD had several fundraisers and erected a memorial for their fallen comrades.

Berry said he also hopes the book will be used as an educational tool to keep children and their families safe in their own homes.

"It's unbelievable how many kids have been responsible for starting a house fire, and burning houses down, and injuries families," Berry said of his review of department statistics and stories during recent decades.

In the 1970s through the 1990s, the department averages 10 to 12 such house fires each year.

"If one more person says, 'Don't mess with matches or lighters", it's done its purpose," Berry said.

He is pleased that Vigo County School Superintendent Danny Tanoos has already pre-ordered 15 books to be placed in the middle schools and high school libraries around the county.

In fact, Berry said sales of the book are by pre-paid order only. That is the deal he has with the publisher, who is working with Berry to get this first book to the printer.

The cost to order is $85.

Anyone wanting to place an order can contact Berry via email at bill.berry@terrehaute.in.gov.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

 

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