I chatted with retired firefighter and local author, Ray Lockett, about his experiences in the Baltimore City Fire Department and his new book “Into The Heat.”
Q: Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in Baltimore City.
Q: How did you end up becoming a firefighter?
My father in law was killed in the line of duty before I met him. My mother in law thought I could handle being a firefighter, so she suggested that I take the test. I joked with my wife at the time that I thought she was trying to get rid of me. ::laughs:: I ended up taking the test, and as soon as I got into fire school, I knew I found what I wanted to do for the next thirty years.
Q: Were you hesitant at first?
Joining the fire department? Not at all. I love adrenaline rushes and excitement.
Q: Is there a specific fire or situation that stands out?
I was in West Baltimore twenty seven out of twenty nine years. We had SO many fires. There was a fire where six lives were lost. I had unknowingly crept over a baby that was burned into the steps. I wound up getting hurt in that fire and hospitalized. When you’re going into a fire, you’re not really thinking about getting hurt.
Q: What does it mean to you that both of your sons are firefighters as well?
The highlight of my career. I fought fires with both of them at the end of my career. My oldest was with me for my last nine years, and youngest for my last five years. We would work different shifts, but if we were working overtime we would get some fires together. Once I was coming down a smokey hallway, and bumped into my oldest. I didn’t know it was him. I said something, and he said something. As he turned around he says “Dad?” I said “Yup, that’s me! I’ll see you outside. ::laughs::
Q: Why did you want to write this book?
I didn’t actually write this to become a book. After eight years of retirement, I wanted a memoir for my grandchildren to have when I’m gone. My mom had a scrapbook of all the major fires I fought that made The Sun paper, and all the ones that had fatalities, so I had a timeline to look back on. So I sat down and hunted and pecked on the computer, since I had no idea how to use one.
Q: What is your fondest memory of being a firefighter?
The brotherhood. It’s a REAL thing. Whether it’s firefighters from Baltimore, or firefighters coming over from France..it’s ALL a brotherhood. Everyone goes out of their way to make the other firefighters feel welcomed.
Q: Do you have any advice for future firefighters?
You better know that this is what you want to do, because it’s a dangerous job. If you’re not ready to take chances, or devout your life to this…it’s not a job you should take lightly.
Order a copy of “Into The Heat” HERE
Visit Ray’s Page at 1st Ride Enterprises