Each day in the world, literally millions of people die and millions of new people are born to take their place. It seems like a fairly cold and scientific way to explain the manner in which our earth is populated. But you and I both know that it is a lot more than that.
If you care about this place upon which we all live and hang our respective hats, you will know that life is a series of relationships. Some are brief and of no consequence. Others are the result of decades of interaction and carry deep meaning for us.
There will be people who have a lasting impact upon our lives. Some will be well-known. They will be widely accepted by literally thousands of people. Their deeds will be celebrated widely. Others will just be good people, who loved what they did in their lives and always gave it their best shot.
Few indeed are those who achieve the status of legend. However, that is exactly what Frank Brannigan was. Everyone knows Frank Brannigan. However, there may well be very few among you who ever heard of Mort Shurtleff. Each had an impact upon my life and the lives of many of my friends and professional associates. Each was a dedicated member of the fire service. The efforts of each will be celebrated in this commentary.
Like many of you out there across America, I am saddened by Frank's death. He was a dear, personal friend and professional mentor. His devotion to the fire service was truly legendary and his devotion to the craft of teaching beyond belief. He has served as one of my role models for a long, long time.
Like many of you out there, I first met Frank as a student in one of his FDIC programs. I just could not believe that one person could talk that fast, name that many names, and manage to sandwich a heck of a lot of knowledge into the middle of his New York-accented delivery.
He was as adept at developing a theory on the danger of truss roof collapse as he was at developing a long and involved story about some really neat, long-dead members of the New York City Fire Department. Many were the times that we traded war stories over a sandwich. Whether it was Memphis, Cincinnati, or Indianapolis, I always looked forward to any time that I could spend with Frank.
There was also the time when he was in one of my classes on the subject of fireground sizeup. After a series of slides (yes, you remember slides) on the subject of exposure protection, I gave the students a break so that we could all get a nice, hot cup of coffee. Up comes Frank to the front of the room and away we go with a discussion of sizeup in big cities.
It took a while for Frank to come to the point of his discussion. He was impressed with a number of slides that I had received from Hank Przybylowicz, a buddy of mine the in the Newark Fire Department. He told me that he was having a heck of a time finding slides that showed the spread of fire in situations where there were asphalt shingles on the sides of the buildings.
There just happened to be a couple of slides like this in my show. Newark at that time still had a heck of a lot of buildings with asphalt shingles. I assured him that I would get permission from Hank to duplicate the slides, and so I did. It was indeed a pleasure to be able to help out a man who had done so much for so many of us.
I can also recall a time back in 1992 when Frank asked me to do a book review of his National Fire Protection Association text, Building Construction for the Fire Service. The third edition had just been published and Frank wanted me to write a review of it for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors magazine, The Voice.
I guess it had been a busy summer, because I had not yet had a chance to write the piece before my family and I left for our first vacation trip to the Province of Nova Scotia up in Canada. We drove up to catch the ferry out Portland, Maine. After a really great week up north, we were on the ferry heading back home.