Whether giving incoming rookies a brutally frank description of the horrors he's seen and heroes he's known during his many years in the department, or working alongside hardened veterans like Lt. Kenny "Lou" Shea, Tommy Gavin is, first and foremost, a New York City firefighter. Under the command of Chief Ron Perrolli, a gruff, by-the-book department veteran, and his hard-gambling polar opposite, Jerry Reilly, Tommy and fellow firefighters Franco Rivera and Sean Garrity rely on their experience to train rookies like Mike Lombardo, a probationary firefighter, or "probie" -- whose very life rests on how fast he can learn from their experience. Like all of his colleagues, Tommy is called upon daily to risk his life, while trying to cope with the haunting memories of his late cousin, Jimmy Keefe, one of the many firemen who died during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Having recently separated from his wife, Tommy watches with mixed emotions from a house across the street as Janet and their three kids -- fourteen-year-old Colleen, twelve-year-old Connor, and ten-year-old Katy, prepare for a new life that may soon land them in California. Unwilling to give up on his marriage, even though everyone else already has, Tommy cannot resist the temptation to spy on Janet and her new boyfriend. Yet, Tommy's daily grind is also punctuated with humor, like his good-natured hazing of rookies like Mike the Probie, or confronting a beleaguered apartment tenant who's out to prove just how crazy he really is. When duty calls them to a blazing apartment building, Tommy and his friends put their lives on the line to rescue crazed drug addicts and helpless children alike. Yet, even at this tragic scene, Tommy is able to play a practical joke on his exhausted friends, while Chief Reilly discretely monitors the progress of the many bets he's made on a football game. When the city sends a psychotherapist to help these men, it quickly becomes clear that almost no one wants to talk. But, as Lou quietly seeks solace from the stress by writing poetry, it's Tommy who finally speaks up about the pain he feels over the loss of so many of the lives he has struggled to save, before turning to alcohol to cope with the seemingly insurmountable problems facing him at work and at home.
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