Retired Des Plaines firefighter recalls 26 years of service

An inside look into life in the firehouse and vivid accounts of a variety of emergency responses.

Recalling the days when firemen rode one-handed on a fire engine tailboard while buckling up a canvas coat, former Des Plaines, IL career firefighter Rick Ornberg has combined both his experiences of fighting fires and freelance writing. In his new book, “10-24: A Firefighter Looks Back”, Ornberg writes about how he first joined the department over 40 years ago along with stories of both local incidents and some of those he covered as a correspondent for FIREHOUSE Magazine and other fire service trade magazines.

Retiring in 1996, after 26 years of service on the Des Plaines Fire Department, Ornberg was encouraged by both family and friends to gather some of those stories into a single book.

“I was privileged to serve 26 years on a typical large suburban fire department as it changed and evolved from the old fire service -- less than a century removed from horse-drawn pumpers -- through its transition to a modern emergency service,” he explains in a preface to the book.

 “As an added benefit, I began freelance writing following the old adage of  ‘Write what you know’.  For me, that was the fire service.  I had local experiences to work with, and as a frequent contributor to fire and emergency service publications, I drew on those of others in the region and elsewhere in the country.”

The book includes many of those experiences written at the time, added Ornberg, collected over two and a half decades, or more recently recalled and resurrected after digging through boxes during retirement.

The 240 page book not only offers an inside look into life in the firehouse and vivid accounts of a variety of emergency responses but provides thoughtful and introspective insights into some of the evolutionary changes that have affected fire departments and cemented the bond among firefighters everywhere.

“The title ’10-24’ comes from a radio code used by many emergency services,” explained Ornberg. “It simply means ‘Finished with last call. Ready for next assignment.’  I thought it appropriate for any retired emergency worker.”

First reader reviews posted on Amazon.com have been 5-Star recommendations, touting the book as an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about the fire department or considering it as a vocation. “10-24: A Firefighter Looks Back” is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle e-versions.

 Following his retirement from the fire department, Rick Ornberg also served for 5 years as Executive Director of the Des Plaines, IL Chamber of Commerce & Industry and currently is owner of Eagle Mountain Promotions, a promotional products and advertising specialty distributorship in Oconomowoc, WI.

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