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Portsmouth's firefighting history recorded for posterity
By Charles McMahon   - 02/26/2009

Foster's Daily Democrat

The history of the Port City Fire Department is no longer just a series of stories and pictures strewn about the Central Fire Station.

Thanks to Asst. Fire Chief Steve Achilles, residents interested in learning a little bit more about the lineage of local firefighters now have a new way of discovering the past.

In his book, "Images of America: Portsmouth Firefighting" Achilles tells the story of the city's very first firefighters and traces the departments history in fighting fires all the way to the times of steam engines and hand tubs.

The book was published by Arcadia Publishing and features dozens of historical pictures compiled by Achilles, each with their very own story.

Having joined the department in 2000, Achilles said he was always interested in learning more about the many pictures and artifacts featured in the halls of the Central Fire Station.

While he considers himself a lover of local and U.S. history in general, Achilles said as he slowly became acclimated to the department he began to learn that the fire department was rich in its own history as well.

"It's very intriguing and interesting to know that you're part of something bigger," Achilles said.

The idea of writing the book came about back in 2006 when the department was trying to determine what to name its new fire boat. After searching through a variety of historical documents and pictures, Achilles said he was amazed on how much was out there and how many interesting facts were available about the department at the local library and Athenaeum.

The process of putting together the book involved much help from other firefighters, said Achilles and also included him spending countless hours researching before and after his shifts.

"It was almost like a treasure hunt," said Achilles.

The book was released on Feb. 23, said Achilles and will be available at a variety of local bookstores. Achilles also plans on holding a book signing this weekend to celebrate his accomplishment and his addition to Port City history.

Anyone interested in meeting Achilles and getting their own copy of his book can visit Maine-ly New Hampshire on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. for a book signing.

The following day Achilles will sign books at Barnes and Noble in Newington.




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