My Relationship with the FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation
After moving to Phoenix, I shared my screenplay I Solemnly Swear with a friend named Michael Diaz, who is a firefighter on the Phoenix Fire Department. At that point the main character was an NYPD detective. My friend Michael suggested that I make my character a fire marshal. Michael then set me up with a fire marshal whom he knew here in Phoenix. After a couple of meetings with the Phoenix fire marshal, he called a friend who was the chief fire marshal in Chicago, who also had contacts at FDNY. A day later I was on the phone with Richard McCahey, the FDNY Assistant Chief Fire Marshal at the time. Chief McCahey invited me out to New York. This was in 2004. It was the first year after 9/11 that they were having the annual FDNY Medal Ceremony. Two weeks later I was in NYC. The BFI rolled out the red carpet for me. Chief McCahey invited me to the Medal Ceremony and to post-ceremony celebrations, he set up a ride-along with the marshal who has been a great supporter and my main contact at FDNY, Commander Randy Wilson. At the time, Louis Garcia was the Chief Fire Marshal. Chief Garcia took time to meet with me and gave me some good ideas. The Marshal — 43rd & 8th is littered with truth and accuracy from everyone at the BFI. Most realistic was the advice I got from Robert Byrnes, a Supervising Fire Marshal at the time, now the FDNY Chief Fire Marshal. I was in the first meeting with Chief McCahey and Robert Byrnes and Randy Wilson, who were both Supervising Fire Marshals at the time. At that time, my central character had a bit of an alcohol problem. It fed into the drama I was creating on the page. Byrnes was not thrilled about the idea of a boozer-marshal. I’ll just say that. Chief Byrnes is a serious man. FDNY fire marshals are serious law enforcement professionals. I determined to make a change on the spot. During that trip I spent a lot of time with various marshals, I slept over at a fire house, spent time on the equipment — I learned who and what an FDNY Fire Marshal is, how they act, what they would do. I went back the next year and spent more time time with them, and I always stayed in contact with Commander Wilson. He has always been available for me to bounce ideas and clarify questions — but let’s remember, this is a work of fiction and I have taken certain liberties. I owe a tremendous debt to the FDNY BFI. This book would never have been without them. Please see my page The Marshal Foundation and check out the link for The FDNY Foundation. Give if you can.