New Author, New Fire Chief

“Once I decided to write a book, I always knew it would be about a firehouse,”
Joe Lenahan, the next chief of the Montauk Fire Department, has written a book for children teaching them the ins and outs of a firehouse. Janis Hewitt

    Joe Lenahan, who will be sworn in as the next chief of the Montauk Fire Department on Jan. 1, has written and illustrated a book called simply “Fire House.” The book, though entertaining, was written to show children what happens at a firehouse and what types of tools are used to fight fires.

    Since he was a little boy, Mr. Lenahan always knew he would someday be a fireman, and 27 years ago he accomplished that dream, following in the footsteps of his father, Robert Lenahan Sr., to whom the book is dedicated.

    A Montauk native, Mr. Lenahan has risen through the ranks of the department and taken a special interest in rescue operations and technical rescues. He also trains others.

    He wrote the book because he was frustrated when he would read to his two young children and found that the books he was reading them were either not focused enough for youngsters or too hard for them understand.

    “Once I decided to write a book, I always knew it would be about a firehouse,” he said.

    The quirky illustrations appear childlike and were purposely drawn that way to appeal to toddlers who might just be starting to learn how to count, Mr. Lenahan said. Each page features a piece of equipment and its function, and on the following page the pieces are illustrated with numbers beneath them for children to count. For example, one page asks, “How many fire hydrants do you see?” and a child is then expected to count the four happy-faced, dancing hydrants.

    Since he is a busy man, working with the department and a construction company, it took Mr. Lenahan about a year to complete the book. “It was just so much fun to write. And now I can call myself an author!”

    Self-published through Trafford Publishing, the softcover book sells for $17 and is available at the Montauk Library and on

    Mr. Lenahan is already at work on another book about construction tools that he plans to call “Little Joe’s Tools.” But taking over as fire chief next year could very well delay the writing process.