Didja Home Overview of the sections Read/download a "pdf" version Acknowledgments


In 1998, as I was just delving into this topic, I began asking friends about their experiences and childhood ambitions. From those inquires an unscientific questionnaire was developed and over the next four years, the "Didja' Ever Want To Be a FIREMAN?" survey was distributed to family, friends, colleagues, and via the World Wide Web. Two hundred and nineteen replies were received from forty-one states and four foreign countries. It is to those 219 respondents -- firefighters, "firefighters at heart," and others, that I am most grateful. Every word they wrote, was one less word I needed to write, and their words (your words) were much more eloquent that mine.

Thanks to my family. To dad for "chauffeuring" me to hundreds of fires and fire stations, and to mom for waiting ever so patiently in the car. To my brother Jeff (whom I can proudly boast became a volunteer firefighter in part because of my interest) and to my sisters who have graciously accepted my overwhelming interest….

Thanks to Richard Flint, whose late-night conversation, enthusiasm, and persistence, lead me to the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Thanks also to Gretchen Soren, Lanny Wright, Deb Prosser, Betty Hass, and all those at CGP, NYSHA, and SUNY Oneonta. Thank you for taking a chance and accepting me into the program, (at the last minute), and for broadening my horizons to museum life beyond the fire house doors. I am grateful for the experience (and the fun!) and without the graduate program, I would not have had reason to collect and analyze this data.…

Thanks to all my "fire friends." When I began this project and approached various collectors and historians, they all opened up their files and shared volumes of information and photographs. Specifically I would like to "tip my helmet" to: Henry Bergson; Bill Cary who provided a photograph from his childhood (top of page 2) that served as my muse and inspiration; Donald Collins, former fire company mascot and Firemanics magazine publisher, and his 1988 article about fire company mascots; Henry Dinneen, former Publisher, Fire Engineering Magazine who provided unlimited access to both the corporate archive and the photocopying machine; David Freund, Conveyer of Visual Arts, Rampo College, for his work on heroes; Melissa Hough, Director, CIGNA Museum & Art Collection; Matt Lee; Rick Lockman and his children who all want to be firefighters; Robert Marks; Bill Meszaros, James Piatti; Doug Preston, who sold me the photo from Syracuse, New York (bottom of page 21) that helped launch this project; Bill Rechenmacher; Harry Rosenblum; Lee Ryan; Ken Snyder; Gary Urbanowicz; B. Waites, for her groundbreaking thesis on female firefighters, and for her friendship during the arduous writing process; Mina Weiner, former Director, New York City Fire Museum, who was not afraid to admit ridding on a fire engine merry-go-round as a child; and to second and third generation Aurora firefighters, Mike and Glenn Zelensek….

Thanks to the 219, firefighters, "firefighters at heart," and other individuals who openly shared their childhood remembrances in my "Didja' Ever Want To Be a FIREMAN?" Survey. Although I will refrain from naming you all here, you are listed in appendix II of the completed paper. When I needed your help, you answered my call….

Most importantly, thanks to the fire service community at large. You have been, and will remain, an inspiration to us all!

If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to contact the author,
David Lewis • e-mail: