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Fighting Fire

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  27 reviews
She fought the prejudice. She fought the stereotype. Then she fought the greatest force of all-- fire.

When the San Francisco Fire Department broke their all-male rule to hire women, Caroline Paul never thought she'd be chosen. She had already enrolled in film school. And Caroline, a strikingly beautiful Stanford graduate, didn't fit anyone's idea of a fireman. Except her o
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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Fire taps something ancient and vital in each of us, something both snarling and reverential. Fire harkens back to our wilder selves, the parts we let out only when we think no one is looking. (69)

Rather like Zac Unger, Paul was an unlikely firefighter: from a white-collar background; educated at Stanford; in graduate school. Female. Like Unger, Paul came to firefighting by accident—in Unger's case, his mother persuaded him to apply; in Paul's case, she took on the application as something of a
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Caroline Paul was not the first woman firefighter is San Francisco but she joined the department when the "good old boys club" was still going strong. Some of her male colleagues shunned her, letting her know that she would never be accepted. Caroline shrugged and went on to develop lifesaving skills and eventually, respect. She tells an insider's story of what it is like to live in a firehouse, risk your life on a daily basis, rescue people from dire situations. She tells it with humor and path ...more
E Dittmar
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all females and any firefighter
Oh my god, finally an incredible auto biography of an amazing female firefighter. This follows Caroline Paul's career as a firefighter and the prejudice and physical and emotional conflicts she faces joining the San Francisco Fire Department at a time when minorities joining was a disaster. Once a feminist siding with the press against the prejudice and racism and sexism of the San Francisco firefighters, she begins to see the other side of things after joining the department with flying colors ...more
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A stay up all night because you can't sleep until you finish it book. ...more
Lora Shouse
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much. It was interesting from beginning to end.

This is the story of Caroline Paul, one of the first dozen or so female firefighters in the San Francisco Fire Department. In it, she writes lyrically of both the practical and philosophical sides of fighting fire.

She tells how she applied to the fire department on the pretense of going undercover to get a story about their racial and sexual prejudice issues for the public radio station where she volunteered. To her own surp
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the author's career in the San Francisco Fire Department as one of the first women to gain entry following efforts to increase diversity on the force. That said, she didn't have it any easier because of the new rules, if anything it garnered more animosity from the 'old guard' who didn't look favorable on welcoming females and minorities to their ranks. To Paul though, it wasn't so much about being a trendsetter, moreso it was the thrill of realizing a dream in such an est ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to live near a fire station in SF. I often wondered if there were any female firefighters in the house. In a handful of years, I never did see a one. Years later, I found out that my first college roommate had become a firefighter. I was interested in this book because, well, I generally think that women who fight fires for a living are pretty badass. Caroline Paul was one of the first to do it in SF. Fighting Fire tells the story of how Paul left her ivy-league educated, destined for wh ...more
Billy Hart
Mar 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
An unusual way to pick your occupation yet Standford grad Caroline filled out a post card and was invited to apply for the Fire Department. Indeed she became a Firefighter yet not a childhood dream! I was amazed by her early point of view (not good) of her future teammates yet she hung in there for 14 years!
She did defend some of the firefighter ways, traditions, norms, etc. yet pointed out what should be and what should not be. I believe her working along side of these brave soles increased he
Monica Bulgari
Mar 29, 2021 rated it liked it
It is an interesting point of view that Caroline Paul brings. She does not spare any critics to the sexism of San Francisco FireFight Department and this is a reallu cool thing. The fire storiea as well the routine of a firefighter ia prett cool too. But the way the book is written has not got me much. In a way this is a book written but a woman who is a firefighter and that is it. Sometimes the langugage is so mundane it makes me think that the book was being written buy a man. This kind of dis ...more
Apr 25, 2021 rated it liked it
I'm a fan of Caroline Paul and I like her style of writing. The book needed a little more content, but I liked it overall. ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
It was good, wish some of the individual stories were explored in more detail.
Everett Armbruster
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
my faveret carecter was the fire fiters 2 nothing 3 no
Therese Dotray-Tulloch
In 1986, Caroline Paul became the second wave of women allowed into the San Francisco Fire Department. Her memoir is very well written, her bravery and courage admirable, and I learned so much about fighting structural fires as well as the SFFD.
Mandy Huot
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great read! it had its share of lull spots but it flowed well, and brought to light the fact that women should,be allowed to enter whatever profession they feel led to.
Cindy Evans
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written memoir by Caroline Paul, who as a Stanford graduate in the late 1980's pursued an unlikely career as a San Francisco firefighter. One of the first women admitted to the fire department, she battled long held prejudices with hard work and fearless dedication. Her poignant narrative frequently references the sentiments of a Dayak hunter to her years before: "why would you put yourself in harm's way?" She searches for the answer to this question as she rides w ...more
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-gr
Riveting throughout. Excellent memoir of self-possessed and strong-willed firefighter who joined the predominately male fire department in the aftermath of affirmative action. Acceptance by some, active harassment by others, her experiences are well detailed with a curious sense of detachment that added to the credibility.

In the chapter labeled "Firewomen", I was impressed with her assertation that the vilification of Elizabeth Mandel actually helped the other women who came after her. "She is s
Feb 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested about fire fighter
Shelves: autobiography
I picked this because the cover looks interesting. A female firefighter? So I had to read it. Doesn't disappoint. It details the battery of tests you have to go through to be a fire fighter, what the job involves, how does it feel to put out your first fire and life at the station. She also tells about problems she encounters at work and how she dealt with it. Well written and very interesting. She's also the twin sister of Baywatch Captain. Not that anything to do with being a fire fighter ;) ...more
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it
After I finished the book, I can say it was a well written book. I guess the subject matter, women breaking through the male barrier in fire fighting, wasn't particularly calling me. But on reflection, Caroline Paul, does a great job describing why anybody would want to fight fire. What the characteristics of personality that are needed to want to risk one's life on an everyday basis. It was a good change of pace for me. ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional, thoughtful and entertaining memoir from an unlikely firefighter. The attitudes and actions of some of her male colleagues and citizens will occasionally inspire disgust. A must-read for any young lady (or anyone, really) considering a first responder position.
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
very interesting look inside the SF fire department from the point of view of a woman fire fighter.
Dawn Mateo
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Such and amazing woman and author! I really enjoyed this book (and her other book: East Wind, Rain). It really gave an insight as to what women endured in the fire service.
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
amazing book, best fire fighting autobiography i've read
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
True story of one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco--the challenges of doing a physically demanding job and the challenges of breaking into the boys club.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
What a good book! Didn't want to put it down. ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-general
I picked up this book because I went to high school with the author's sister, but it won its place in my library on its own merits. ...more
Sarah Gerdes
rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2018
david milne
rated it it was amazing
Jan 21, 2020
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Feb 16, 2011
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Aug 06, 2017
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Caroline Paul is an American writer of fiction and nonfiction. Trained as a journalist and documentary filmmaker at Stanford University, she instead pursued a career as a firefighter, as one of the first women hired by the San Francisco Fire department. She worked most of her career on Rescue 2, where she and her crew were responsible for search and rescue in fires. Rescue 2 members were also trai ...more

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“Fire taps something ancient and vital in each of us, something both snarling and reverential. Fire harkens back to our wilder selves, the parts we let out only when we think no one is looking.” 0 likes
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