Fire 5 is a special roving unit which comes to the aid of other fire companies that run into trouble all over the city. Its story is told by one of the men of the unit, Charly Sprockett, and from the very first scene Jack Olsen hooks the listener with his remarkable ability to write dialogue that rings true and to create characters who jump to life.
We live with the men in the station, take drills with them, hear them swap funny stories, marital woes and sexual adventures. We watch them razz the probies, initiate their first fireperson, Lulu Ann Tompkins, and unite in common hatred of their tyrannical new battalion chief, H. Walker Slater. We see them crawl through burning buildings, dragging out people trapped within. We join the hilarity when they come to the rescue of a 400-pound woman who gets stuck in her bathtub, and we root for Charly as he climbs out on an overpass over a freeway to talk a desperate young girl out of leaping to her death.
But beneath the ribald humor lies an urgent suspense story. Somewhere in the city lurks the firefighter's deadliest enemy - a torch - a vicious arsonist who has been pouring gasoline over derelicts and setting them aflame. Funny, touching, exciting, true, The Secret of Fire 5 seems headed for certain success.
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Wonderful on every front.