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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Author: E. Max Hengst, and LAFD FF/PM

Each day, Max Hengst sees things most of us will never see. He felt he had to write about them. He told me he's a little concerned some people might be uncomfortable with the profanity he uses in the book. But to write about his work without using profanity might just be dishonest, and Max is a straight talker. 
Please welcome today's guest author, E. Max Hengst.

I wrote this book because you can’t make this stuff up. I am still serving on the Los Angeles Fire Department as a Captain and have seen it all. Every firefighter and paramedic (FF/PM) says they are going to write a book. I decided to do it about four years ago. It took approximately three years to write.

What you will read will make you laugh at the insanity as well as cry at the horror people are exposed to. In the beginning the book starts out profane. That was done to show how we really are. It is amazing to see what people do to each other. It’s a good thing there are those who will drop what they are doing at the sound of the bell to help others, strangers, to clean up the mess. Unfortunately some of my brothers and sisters on the department don’t come back.

The politics on the department can be appalling. I guarantee the majority of us didn’t sign up for the politics. After the shock and excitement of responding to calls in high incident areas wear off, the politics of saving those in need becomes more apparent.

Many of the incidents that we respond to stay with us and there are not enough chemicals or therapy that can erase them from memory. Calls or runs, as we call them, are the worst when children are involved.

Many people decide to write a book of this nature once they retire. Even though I am currently on the department I decided to go forth with this project because as a writer there is that need to write and I didn’t want this book to sit in manuscript form collecting dust. Let the chips fall where they may. After writing I tested it with my colleagues and fortunately it came back positive.

I have been living in the San Gabriel Valley most of my life. I came to Pasadena after an ugly divorce. I like Pasadena because it is close to work and I don’t have to travel far for any of my wants, needs or interests. I notice the Pasadena area also encourages the arts and that is a good thing for any writer. 

27 comments:

Laurie said...

This sounds great! I really appreciate our firefighters. Don't know how you guys manage to do what you do without superhero capes. :-)

Sounds like a fascinating memoir.

Petrea Burchard said...

It does, doesn't it, Laurie? And Max has some amazing stories.

Patricia said...

This sounds like an amazing book, one I will be reading. I can only imagine what firefighters and police officers encounter everyday in a city like Los Angeles. I grew up in LA, still love it, but I am not blind to it's ugly and heartbreaking parts. So wish I still lived in Pasadena so that I could attend this reading. Sounds like it will be an extremely interesting evening. Bravo to you Mr. Hengst for writing this book and being one of the courageous men who have chosen to lay their lives on the line everyday for others.

Unknown said...

I am flattered at the comments. I just wanted folks to read about the human element and how this job effects those who respond to the bell. ...E. Max Hengst

Petrea Burchard said...

Courageous women, too. The female FF/PMs must be a special breed, I imagine--not just to do the work, but to work in such a male-oriented environment.

Max, it's fun to have you and your book on the blog today. I hope the discussion will be lively.

Patricia said...

You are so right, Petrea. The women who are doing these tough jobs must have an amazing amount of character and strength.

Unknown said...

The women on this job are tough. All though the conditions have become better since I first joined, they had to contend with male mental midgets. Because of their bravery some now serve as chiefs. By the way, our department was one of the first that had such an amount of females on the job that the amount went past what was required for affirmative action. ....E. Max Hengst

Unknown said...

One of the things you will be shocked to read is how people call for chronic illness, tummy aches, flu symptoms, or if they ran out of their prescription medications......E. Max Hengst

Margaret said...

Yes, sounds like an interesting read.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'll bet they call for directions, too!

Unknown said...

I recently was called to turn off lawn sprinklers....E. Max Hengst

Ms M said...

Looks like a fascinating book! Kudos to our firefighters and emergency responders!

altadenahiker said...

As one of my favorite books is "Young Men and Fire," I plan to read your book. Firefighters have saved the hills and houses up here in Altadena numerous times. I think it's important we see the faces and know the thoughts of those who have saved us.

Unknown said...

I was in volved in the big Griffith Park fire back in 2007. Nearly lost a close friend of mine when he called for "Help" on the radio. Got out just in time. They turned the engine into a large sprinkler head to keep the flames from burning them up. ...E. Max Hengst

Steven said...

Looks like a terrific book. Those men and women who take on this job each and every day are the best of the best. It really takes a special breed. And I salute them.
I'm wondering if there was a story or an incident that was just too horrific for the book?
Might there be a sequel to this book?
Has anyone expressed an interest for the movie rights?
Best of luck with this book!

Unknown said...

I put the worst call in my career in this book. It involves a father and son. I have had people say this ought to be a movie. I just need to make a connection with the right person. Know, anybody? I will probably write book two when I retire in five years if my body lasts that long. I go into surgery for a torn shoulder this Friday due to lifting equipment on a medical call.... E. Max Hengst

Petrea Burchard said...

So, a mix of drama and comedy, right?

When someone calls for you to turn off their sprinklers, do you have to go? Or does your dispatcher tell them to stop wasting taxpayer dollars that way?

Unknown said...

For legal reasons, when the public calls we go. Due to the economy the public is on to how we operate. We are the last agency that shows up to your house in five minutes or less. Even the police places you on a list because all you will need is a report after the fact, unless someone is trying to kill you. We have had people call us to fix their plumbing and electrical problems because they know we will show up...E. Max Hengst.

Katie said...

Max I'll definitely search out this book. Even if some of the stories are tough to read, I think it's important to know what firefighters really have to deal with. I'm sure I'll have even more respect for firefighters after reading it! Bummer that people who misuse the fire department can't be billed once it's determined that their call was completely bogus. Keep up the great work!

Petrea Burchard said...

Max, I've got a faucet that needs attention...

Unknown said...

I'll even cut the lawn and walk the dog for you too!...E. Max Hengst

Bellis said...

Max, my ice cube maker has stopped working.

My gosh, you must have some stories to tell. I enjoyed reading what you had to say. Am definitely piqued!

Desiree said...

Great piece!

Susan Campisi said...

I lived in Los Feliz in 2007 and watched the Griffith Park flames from my apartment. I can't imagine being up close to that. You guys are all heroes. Your book sounds fantastic. My interest is definitely piqued.

And, Max, I've got two dogs that need walking tomorrow. If I'd known the extent of your duties I would've called a lot sooner...

Petrea Burchard said...

Max, it's been a pleasure having you on the blog today. There may be more comments dribbling in but I'm going to bed. Thank you and the other firefighters and paramedics who make me feel safe enough to sleep soundly in this giant city. And thank you for writing about it.

Good night!

Unknown said...

Patrea, I really enjoyed doing this and I want to thank you and your bloggers for giving me this opportunity.
E. Max Hengst

Petrea Burchard said...

Update 3/18/12:
Max was quoted today by Steve Lopez in an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0318-lopez-lafd-20120318,0,3150348,full.column