By Tessa Raebeck
Award-winning—and Sag Harbor Express—photographer and journalist Michael Heller has continued his documentation of the friendly competition of fire departments in “Chariots of Firefighters: The History and Practice of Firematic Competition in New York State—Volume II: The Practice.” “Volume I: The History” was published in 2009.
The histories, the second of which Mr. Heller spent the last five years writing, chronicle the birth and rise of inter-department contests over 200 years and the present practice of modern-day firematic competition, with detailed descriptions and historic photographs alongside Mr. Heller’s stunning work.
“It is an in-depth look into a unique culture and facet of the world of firefighting in the United States that is unparalleled anywhere else in the entire world,” said a press release about the books, which chronicle a custom that is more prevalent in New York State than anywhere else.
An active volunteer firefighter with Hook & Ladder Co. #1 of the East Hampton Fire Department for the last 25 years, Mr. Heller has used his camera to document both fires and firematic competition. He has won numerous awards from the New York Press Association, the International Fire Photographers Association and other organizations for his writing and photography. In 2004, Mr. Heller took home the Grand Prize “Golden Firefighter Award” in the international photography Bombero de Oro (“Fire Photography Contest”) held in Spain.
Both volumes of “Chariots of Firefighters” are self-published and available for purchase here. For more information, email Mr. Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see Mr. Heller’s portfolio, visit hellercreative.com.