Former fire chief pens first novel

Former Markham Fire and Emergency Services Chief Donald McClean credits a red firehouse door with inspiring him to write a crime fiction novel.

Where There’s Smoke, his first fiction book, tells the story of a group of Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) firefighters who plan a heist to bring some sort of karmic payback to a New York slumlord by relieving him of some valuable jewels.

Firefighter Pete Carson steps outside the familiar role of hero for a chance to get payback against a man he holds responsible for several fire deaths in Manhattan. Readers will get an inside look at the life of firefighters in the self-published book, which is available at online book retailers or, by request, from local bookstores.

McClean served as a firefighter in Markham for 22 years, ending his career in 2008 following a six-year stint as fire chief. He went on to earn his law degree from Osgood Hall Law School and practised sports law for 10 years.

“Turned out that my brief time playing sports for a living gave me a rare blend of sports knowledge, legal expertise and that, combined with a couple of mooting awards in dispute resolution, made me pretty good at getting things solved,” he says in his LinkedIn profile. “The pinnacle was helping an Olympic-level athlete fight an appeal in a World Cup event.”

McClean currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children and says he passed by the red firehouse door that inspired him twice each weekday for 10 months. “As I walked around NYC during the worst of COVID, I began to think seriously about how to combine my particular expertise with my love of writing and reading,” he says. “I set out to write a book that I would love to read.”

Photos courtesy of Don McClean.

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