In Billy Simpson's Journals, Leo Stapleton moves his chronicle of the Boston Fire Department forward by going back to the BFD's past.
District Fire Chief Donald Holden's closest friends on the job are sick and tired of him hoarding the advice he's been getting from his mentor, Chief Billy Simpson, over the years. It's time to share the wealth! After several threats, Donald arranges a lunch with his cohorts and Billy. They just want Billy to talk; they just want to listen- and to learn. Simpson's detailed recollections of his early years on the job are so enlightening to the group- most of whom weren't even born when Billy was appointed- that they beg him to make the lunch meeting a regular event. Naturally, Billy agrees to their request.
To prepare for the meetings Billy reviews the personal journals he kept during his long career. It's all there in the journals: ship fires, tunnel fires, warehouse fires, pier fires, high-rise fires, whole neighborhoods of triple deckers blazing; civil unrest and riots, Boston firefighters being stoned and shot at by the people they were sworn to protect; the most destructive wave of arson any American city had ever experienced, while the BFD was being systematically decimated by budget cuts and layoffs; and then, under new leadership, the gradual rebuilding of the Boston Fire Department's equipment, manpower and pride.
Billy Simpson's Journals is an informal history of four decades of the American fire service, and Leo Stapleton's writing is as sharp and as vibrant as ever, his attention to the details and dangers of the fireground is still meticulous and precise. In short,Billy Simpson's Journals is everything a Stapleton fan could hope for!