Dennis Smith (firefighter)
|Born||Dennis E. Smith
Manhattan, New York City, United States
|Occupation||FDNY Firefighter (Retired), writer|
|Genre||Memoirs, Firefighting Research|
Dennis E. Smith is an American writer, president of a financial services company for emergency services personnel, and retired firefighter. He is best known for writing the memoir Report from Engine Co. 82, a chronicle of his career as a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department in a South Bronx firehouse during the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Smith served for 18 years as a New York City Firefighter, from 1963 to 1981, and is an advocate for firefighters in the United States.
Early life and career
According to his autobiography, Dennis Smith is of Irish ancestry and grew up in a tenement on the East Side of Manhattan. In 1963, Smith took the New York City Civil Service Test and became a firefighter in the New York City Fire Department. He was first assigned to Engine Company 292, a fire company located in Queens. Three years later, in 1966, Smith transferred to the busiest fire company in the city, and perhaps the world at the time, Engine Company 82, located in the South Bronx. In the mid-1970s, shortly after his first book was published, Smith transferred to Ladder Company 66 in the North Bronx. During the duration of his career, Smith, his wife, and children lived in the Orange County suburb of Washingtonville, New York.
In 1976, Smith founded Firehouse magazine. The magazine became the journal of record for the American fire service, and accorded Smith as its editor the opportunity to educate himself on most of the nation’s emergency management concerns. He sold Firehouse in 1991, but continues as Founding Editor and continues occasionally. Firehouse is a monthly with a circulation of 120,000, and a readership of 700,000 within the community of firefighters. While the editor and publisher of Firehouse, Smith also created the Firehouse Muster and Convention in Baltimore.
Dennis Smith is a leader in New York City and national charitable organizations. He was the founding chairman of the New York Academy of Art and continues today with the school as its Secretary and Chairman Emeritus.
For the last eighteen years, he has been president or chairman of Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in the Southeast Bronx, where 9000 youngsters are members. For more than thirty years he has served on the national board of advisors of Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and was recently elected to that institution’s prestigious “Hall of Fame”. In consequence his bronze bust resides in the lobby of the BGCA’s Atlanta headquarters.
Smith’s service to firefighters and his leadership in their causes have been recognized in numerous awards, most recently by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fire Academy, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. In 1991, he created the Foundation for the Health and Safety of American Firefighters with the royalties from one of his books. The foundation supports health and safety efforts through grants to leading organizations in the fire service. The foundation has given about $75,000 per year to these organizations and to burn care facilities.
Smith is a trustee of the New York Fire Foundation, a charity that supports special projects and needs of the fire commissioner. The organization purchased the pass alert devices for firefighters, computer services for firehouses, and has been in the forefront of investigating needs of firefighters and the department.
He also serves on the board of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, an organization created by an Act of Congress. It provides emergency service management information and conclusions to the congress, and has been honored by visits from Presidents George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, Homeland Security head Tom Ridge, and many congressional leaders.
Smith serves as a trustee of the New York Police & Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, a charity that benefits the families of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs award cited Smith:
|“||For your accurate and colorful portrayal of the fire service in your books, for your vision in creating the Foundation for the Health and Safety of American Firefighters, and for your dedication to education by pioneering Firehouse Magazine.||”|
Beginning in 1992, Smith built financial services businesses directed to firefighters. He formed a venture with First USA (now BankOne) to offer financial services to firefighters. The affinity card is held by many of the nation’s firefighters.
In 1998, Smith began an affinity marketing program with Chase Manhattan Home Mortgage Company for the provision of home mortgages to firefighters. This program has been launched nationwide.
Smith received a B.A. in English from New York University in 1970, and an M.A. in Communications from NYU in 1972. Smith successfully completed NASD Series 7, Series 45, Series 63 and Series 65 examinations and is a licensed insurance broker in all states that require license.
Dennis Smith has written fourteen books in his career, among them:
- Report from Engine Co. 82 (1972)
- Final Fire
- Glitter & Ash
- Steely Blue
- History of Firefighting in America
- Firehouse (with Jill Freedman)
- Firefighters - Their Lives in Their Own Words
- A Song for Mary
- Report from Ground Zero
- San Francisco Is Burning - The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires
- A Decade of Hope - Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends
- The Little Fire Engine That Saved The City (For Children)
- Brassy the Fire Engine (For Children)