FHExpo16: Firehouse Inducts 4 New Members into Hall of Fame

Oct. 21, 2016
Four distinguished contributors were inducted into the second annual Firehouse Hall of Fame.

NASHVILLE - Four distinguished contributors have been inducted into the Firehouse Hall of Fame. Rich Adams, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, MD, Rescue Squad; Firehouse Founder Dennis Smith, FDNY; Deputy Chief James Smith, Philadelphia Fire Department; and Deputy Assistant Chief John Norman, FDNY, were honored at a special event held along in Nashville’s Walk of Fame Park, as part of the Legends & Icons program at Firehouse Expo.

During the second annual ceremony, Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Tim Sendelbach explained that the purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize those long-time Firehouse supporters who have made a significant difference in the fire service. He then highlighted their myriad accomplishments and how the role they played in building the Firehouse brand.

John Norman

Deputy Assistant Chief John Norman spent more than 27 years with the FDNY, the majority of time in Special Operations units. While assigned to Rescue 1, Norman worked with Safety Command and the Fire Commissioner’s High Rise Fire Safety Task Force, investigating and developing high-rise fire safety legislation in the wake of multiple fatal fires. In the days after 9/11, Norman was designated as the Search and Rescue Manager for the World Trade Center site, later assuming the job of Chief of Special Operations. He was decorated for valor nine times. Norman wrote the Fire Tactics column for Firehouse Magazine starting in May 1991. Norman has been an adjunct instructor at the Fire Academy on Randall’s Island, and as a Task Force Leader with the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, he has taught in FEMA’s Rescue Specialist Training course for the nation’s 28 USAR teams. Norman authored the best-selling Fire Officers Handbook of Tactics.

Chief Norman said the honor was one that he couldn’t have imagined when he first started in the fire service, particularly considering the other individuals who were inducted with him. “With guys like Rich … and the most poignant connection is to Harvey Eisner [Class of 2015 inductee], whom I wish were here to share this with me. He and Dennis Smith made this happen.”

Dennis Smith

It was an extra special occasion for Firehouse Founder Dennis Smith, as he was on hand to help Firehouse celebrate its 40th anniversary as well. Smith began his career as a firefighter in the FDNY. In 1972, he published his first book, The New York Times bestseller Report from Engine Co. 82. The nonfiction account of life in the South Bronx’s busiest firehouse has sold more than 2 million copies and been translated into 13 languages. Smith is the author of nine other books, including Report from Ground Zero, which detailed his experiences at Ground Zero during the unprecedented recovery efforts following 9/11.

Smith shared stories of his initial purpose in starting Firehouse Magazine. “I saw nothing in the [other trade magazines] that related to my work as a firefighter,” he said. So he set out to find writers who could speak to the issues that focused on firehouse culture and tactics in a new way. Some of those writers included Hal Bruno [Class of 2015 inductee], James Smith, John Norman, Paul Hashagen and Alan Brunacini [Class of 2015 inductee]. He added that being inducted into the Hall of Fame was quite an honor, particularly because, “I am still fundamentally a back-step firefighter.”

James Smith

James Smith is a retired deputy chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department, where he served for 41 years. He wrote more than 185 articles in various national publications, and served as a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine, authoring the Fire Studies column since 1988. Smith wrote the book Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground and served as a technical consultant on many other books. He is a graduate and instructor of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer’s program, and has taught more than 375 NFA and EMI courses. Smith has served as a subject-matter expert for the USFA and several law firms, and has conducted fireground investigations for multiple fire departments.

Smith said he was grateful for the honor and thanked the Firehouse staff, Dennis Smith, his family and friends for their support. “Firehouse opened a lot of doors for me and I have made a lot of friends,” he said. He added his regret and sadness that some of those friends—Harvey Eisner, Hal Bruno and Rich Adams—were not able to share in the experience.

Rich Adams

Rich Adams’ career in journalism included National Public Radio, WTOP Radio and a long career with WUSA-Channel 9 Television in Washington, DC. He won Emmy and Peabody awards during the years he was editorial director and a producer for WUSA-TV. He eventually began his own TV production company specializing in fire, EMS and public safety training. Adams was a lifetime member of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, and often lectured at the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and the National Fire Academy. He was a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine, writing the EMS column from 1978 until his death in 1996.

Adams’ wife Sherry accepted the award on behalf of her husband. She spoke of how Adams always wanted to be and excel at so many things, but most importantly, he wanted to feel like he mattered and made a difference—an important quality to demonstrate for their children. “It is clear that he did make a difference,” she said. “On behalf of my children, thanks to all of you whom he admired so much.”

Pictures of the honorees will be on display at the Firehouse Expo booth throughout the conference, and Dennis Smith and Jim Smith will be signing posters on Friday, Oct. 21, at the Firehouse Expo booth.

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