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Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013

The Flame Within: Memoir of a Firefighter (MCF), by Wayne Mutza

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Between budget cutbacks and allegations that a group of disgruntled firefighters vandalized their own stationhouse, the Milwaukee Fire Department has drawn dubious headlines lately. But as former MFD firefighter Wayne Mutza reminds us in his memoir, the department’s reputation for professionalism is solid; the MFD has a good record putting out the fires in one of America’s great (and often underrated) cities.

In The Flame Within, Mutza walks us through the MFD’s structure, procedures and scope of responsibility. He explores what motivates someone to become a firefighter: chief among them, confronting and conquering some of our most primal fears. Encountering death to save lives can be a spiritual experience, as is the intense alertness necessary to survive a foray into a burning, collapsing building. Not everyone Mutza met during his years with the department was always a hero, but he found enough brave souls to fill a book. The Flame Within is a vivid personal account of one of the world’s dangerous professions.