Logo
Lori McElrath-Eslick
THE GOOD FIRE HELMET
The Good Fire Helmet, written by New York City firefighter Tim Hoppey and illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick, is a story about being brave in everyday life and believing in yourself. Two young brothers cherish the fire helmet that once belonged to their dad. Christian thinks the helmet makes him brave when he gets a shot at the doctor's office and wards off scary shadows in his bedroom at night. His big brother Tommy's real test of courage comes the day Christian falls in the creek and is swept downstream with the helmet. Tommy draws on memories of his dad--and his own courage--to rescue his brother. ISBN 978-1-934617-06-9 $16.95
32-page picture book, all ages. Published by Alma Little, an imprint of Elva Resa Publishing. Available at the New York City Fire Museum as well as retail and online bookstores. More information: http://www.elvaresa.com/pressHelmet.html

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Firefighter's picture book honors children's courage

The Good Fire Helmet (Alma Little, 2010), written by New York City firefighter Tim Hoppey and illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick, is a story about being brave in everyday life and believing in yourself. Two young brothers cherish the fire helmet that once belonged to their dad. Christian thinks the helmet makes him brave when he gets a shot at the doctor's office and wards off scary shadows in his bedroom at night. His big brother Tommy's real test of courage comes the day Christian falls in the creek and is swept downstream with the helmet. Tommy draws on memories of his dad--and his own courage--to rescue his brother.

The tender story of Christian and Tommy was inspired by two real-life brothers. "Firefighting is an inherently dangerous profession," says author and firefighter Tim Hoppey, who has attended many funerals for fallen firefighters. "At one funeral several years ago, I was struck by the courage and composure of two young boys as they solemnly carried their father's fire helmet from the church." Tim's admiration for these two boys led him to ruminate upon the meaning of courage, and then to write a first draft of the story The Good Fire Helmet. The story was intended to be as pertinent in Peoria as it was in New York.

Tim wrote the story prior to 9/11, but the story took on special meaning after those tragic events. On that morning, Tim was working at Engine 91 in East Harlem. When the first plane flew into the North Tower, Tim's immediate thoughts were for his good friend, Tom Dennis, who worked on the 105th floor. He could only hope that Tom had not yet arrived at work. Moments later the alarm sounded; Engine 91 was to respond to the World Trade Center.

Tim, and the other members of E-91, had just been ordered into the South Tower and were crossing West Street when the building imploded. Of those who survived, E-91 had one of the farthest dashes to safety. Tom Dennis worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Every one of their employees in the North Tower that morning perished.

"What was most disturbing about that day," says Tim, "was watching the people plummet from the towers. Many must have taken running starts for they landed out in the street. Others landed on top of the Marriott. The sound stays with me to this day. It had also occurred to me over and over that one of those bodies might be Tom. As we waited for orders at the Command Post, we had ample time to witness the horrific scene, to ponder the fate of friends, and to prepare for what we were all certain was our impending deaths."

Tom and Tim had become close friends in 10th grade. Tom had moved into Setauket just before starting high school. He had gone out for the wrestling team. Tim says, "He was a pudgy kid with a quick wit and very little wrestling talent. Wrestling can be a grueling sport, but Tom took some of the drudgery out of it by keeping us laughing. Over the next two years this pudgy kid grew into an imposing figure. To his friends Tom was larger than life, not just in physical size, but in spirit and zest. He was a protective and overly kind giant, and was without a doubt the funniest man I have ever met. No one could spar verbally with Tom. He was an unequaled wordsmith."

Tom Dennis was never found. He left behind two young children, Lauren and Tommy. As Tim delivered the eulogy for his friend, he looked at these two children and understood that they would need to find courage of a different stripe than that required to fight fires.

Tim's helmet story, which had been circulating among publishers, was shelved. Though it was not a 9/11 story, Tim did not wish to appear exploitative. Finally, in the chaotic aftermath that seemed interminable, the story was forgotten.

Tim and his family focused on being there for the Dennis family, first as a shoulder and then as a hand. Every year there were ski vacations and beach vacations together, which continue to this day. Lauren and Tommy will soon be young adults. "Finer children a parent couldn't ask for," says Tim. "There were difficult times and struggles, but both have found the mettle to meet each day with a smile."

A few years ago Tim came upon the helmet story in a desk drawer. With the encouragement of his editor, he rewrote the story into a universal portrayal of courage, considering the myriad of reasons children need to be brave in their everyday lives, and adding an element of adventure and heroism. "The task of rewriting was made easier," says Tim, "because my experience had given me a firmer grasp on what it means to be brave. I witnessed it firsthand watching Lauren and Tommy grow."

The Good Fire Helmet is the result of Tim's journey not only as a firefighter but as a friend and as a witness to the everyday courage in the children around him. The book is dedicated to Lauren and Tommy Dennis.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To interview the author, Tim Hoppey, please contact Elva Resa PR 651-357-8770, pr@elvaresa.com.
For more information about the publisher and this book, visit www.elvaresa.com.
Permission is granted to media to reprint this article in part or whole. For interior image spreads, please contact pr@elvaresa.com.
Home Page
Home
Page
Portfolio
Portfolio
 
Books
Books
 
Personal Paintings
Personal
Paintings
Portraits
Portraits
 
School Visits
School
Visits
Bio
Bio
 
Favorite Links
Selected
Links
For Fun
For
Fun
Contact Lori Here

Email Contact: lorieslick@comcast.net


This page was last updated: Dec 19, 2015