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American Firefighter Celebrates the Nation’s Firefighters and Their Families

What does the American firefighter look like? Male, Female. White, Black, Latino, Native American. Immigrant, Native-born Citizen. Multigenerational. Well-trained and Educated. Volunteer, Career. Where does the American firefighter serve? On the urban streets, in suburban towns, on military establishments (on land and at sea), in national parks, on Native American lands, at high-risk industrial facilities. What do they all have in common? A deep desire to serve their communities! And they don’t think of themselves as heroes, but merely doing their jobs.

Paul Mobley has taken his camera on the road again to photograph America’s bravest citizens. In this collection of intimate and powerful photographic portraits, we get a glimpse of what it means to answer the call and run toward danger. In American Firefighter, stunning portraits of these brave men and women—chief fire officers, company and wildland crew leaders, instructors, and volunteer firefighters—are accompanied by firsthand accounts of those who put it all on the line. One firefighter recounts how he enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school and was introduced to the world of fire protection services in the US military. While completing his higher education he was able to rise through the Department of Defense as one of the key individuals who helps manage and coordinate fire responses for all of the US Army’s needs. Responding to the overwhelming needs of tragedies such as September 11 and natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, another firefighter worked on the initial iteration of the DHS-FEMA Ready Responder program, which prepares all firefighters and EMTs in security protocols for mass-casualty events.


“What they reveal through their words and photos will leave you with a greater appreciation for the commitment, courage, and compassion firefighters share with each other and their community.”

– Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, Executive Director, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation


Published in conjunction with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) as it celebrates its 25th anniversary, American Firefighter also highlights how many of these firefighters go above and beyond their daily duties by joining and even establishing various programs that support and create awareness for issues facing the firefighting community at large, including ones developed to prevent firefighter line-of-duty injuries, cancer awareness and prevention, and deaths, a nationwide support center for wildland firefighting, and programs offered to support firefighter behavioral health and the nutritional needs of emergency responders.

American Firefighter celebrates this nation’s 1.4 million firefighters and their families.

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About the Author

Paul Mobley is an award-winning photographer and author of Welcome’s American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country and If I Live to Be 100: The Wisdom of Centenarians. JoEllen Kelly is a project manager for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring our fallen fire heroes and assisting their families and co-workers.