Esprit de corps article

Canada’s military magazine Esprit de Corps, included several excerpts from Firefight in their July issue. It was a thrill to receive the magazine in the mail last week and the article is also available on the Esprit de Corps website.

Featured are three stories from the book including A Different Kind of Warfare (Bosnia), The People You Meet (Afghanistan) and A Girl in the Desert (Afghanistan).

Esprit de Corps EdC 2

Media coverage of Firefight

I was interviewed by Chris Doucette of the Toronto Sun and John Moore (Moore in the Morning) of CFRB about my experiences and the stories featured in Firefight.


Rick Kurelo TO SUN


(Listen from 17:46 – 25:11 minutes):

If you’re interested in buying Firefight, it’s available in print and eBook format at the following sites – just click on any of the links below to order the book online.

Buy Firefight online at:

Firefight, a Memoir by Rick Kurelo, CD

Firefight - Cover-3

Firefight is a compilation of Rick Kurelo’s personal accounts as a professional firefighter in Canada and as a Canadian Forces soldier in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Ninety-seven stories and forty-five photographs document Rick’s experiences at scenes of chaos and conflict, where he and his teams encounter one dangerous scenario after another. They convey the deadly tensions, pressures and risks that can arise at any moment, as well as the poignant human connections that often occur.

Firefight is a memoir that brings to life the human experience – the tragic, touching and humorous – that we all share.

Buy Firefight online at:
Chapters Indigo
Barnes & Noble

You can also ask your local Canadian or international bookseller.

Excerpt: Madness


Some aspects of my work as a firefighter can truly make me angry. I have seen the carelessness that led to deadly fires. I’ve witnessed the aftermath of suicides with families left smothered by tragedy. I’ve encountered vandalism and arson that resulted in innocent people pointlessly losing their lives. However, nothing gets under my skin as much as drunk driving, and my team and I have come across way too many cases to count.

The reason this gets to me as much as it does is perhaps because it’s so preventable. Or because a completely innocent and unsuspecting person can be killed doing nothing other than driving home or crossing the street in the path of an irresponsible idiot.

There have been anti-drinking and driving campaigns going on for decades, but people still go out partying without ever giving the ride home a second thought. So many of the victims and perpetrators are young men and women with their whole lives ahead of them. It’s such a waste.

The worst part about these accidents is that first moment when we arrive on the scene. There will be two wrecked cars. Glass is everywhere. There are puddles of blood and the pungent odour of gas, hot metal and burning rubber.

There will often be someone moaning from inside one of the cars, begging for help. And there will be someone else standing beside their own broken vehicle. That person will most often be the drunk driver – the one without a scratch. The one who will have to live with what they have done, but at least they will live.

Meanwhile, my partner and I will make a beeline toward the poor victims who never knew what hit them and whose lives will never be the same. That is if they live at all.

That’s the scenario that has played out on too many occasions. It’s what we encountered when we arrived late one night to the scene where one car had “T-boned” another.

The car driven by a young man had run a red light and slammed into the side of the other vehicle driven by a young woman who was unconscious, yet still breathing. Both appeared to be in their early twenties.

The male driver who had run the light was smoking a cigarette and standing beside his car. I could tell he was impaired by his slurred speech and inability to stand up straight, but I did not have time to think about him.

We rushed to the injured woman’s car and began the delicate, urgent task of extracting her. When the paramedics arrived they did their best to stabilize her, but sadly they could not. She had suffered too much physical trauma and died there on the scene.

With tight fists, I started heading toward the young man, but my partner grabbed me and pulled me back. He saw the anger in my eyes and was cool-headed enough to stop me from doing something I would later regret.

Later that night, I lay awake in bed at the fire hall, tossing and turning. I was unable to get the images out of my head of that poor young woman and the drunk driver who stood there smoking while she took her last breath.

I got up to get a glass of water in the kitchen. I felt such rage and frustration. It was 2:30 am and I knew that her family had likely been notified about their daughter’s tragic and pointless death. I heard their cries in my head and visualized them crumpling to the ground as they were given that dreadful news.

I have seen that deceased young woman’s face since then and not just in my mind’s eye. Her parents make sure her picture appears every year in the “in memoriam” section of the local newspaper. She was their only child and had been studying to be a lawyer. I cannot imagine what her mother and father must go through every single day.

There are countless injustices in the world. One includes people with limitless potential who die far before their time. Another involves those who irresponsibly and callously take their lives from them.

Madness is an excerpt from Firefight © 2014 By Rick Kurelo, CD. Firefight is available at

Buy Firefight online at:
Chapters Indigo
Barnes & Noble

You can also ask your local Canadian or international bookseller.

Photo: Stacie Stauff Smith / Shutterstock


Firefight is ready!

Wow! We just had to share the great news that Firefight is now available for purchase on the FriesenPress website! We’re so excited that Rick’s book is finally reality.

We hope you enjoy reading Firefight and would love to hear your thoughts, questions and engage in discussion about any of its content whether about Rick’s tour in Afghanistan, his experiences as a firefighter or his earlier days in Bosnia and with the Airborne Regiment.

You can always share here in the comments, or via Twitter: @Firefight2014 or Facebook: Firefight by Rick Kurelo.

Thanks so much for your interest in Firefight. Cheers!

Buy Firefight online at:
Chapters Indigo
Barnes & Noble

You can also ask your local Canadian or international bookseller.

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The importance of commemorative events

Ontario Police Memorial

Today is full of public activities and media coverage commemorating a host of historical events and organizations that are very close to my heart.

May 4 marks the annual International Firefighters Day, which celebrates the dedication of all the men and women who serve their communities each and every day as professional or volunteer firefighters.

Ontario Police Memorial events take place each year on the first Sunday in May to honour fallen police officers. This year the names of 254 were read aloud, including most recently added PC John Zivcic, of Toronto Police Services, who died in December, 2013.

BOA May 2014

The first Sunday in May is also reserved to remember the heroism and sacrifice of the Royal Canadian Forces in the Battle of the Atlantic, which was the longest battle in the Second World War. Many towns and cities across the country are hosting ceremonies and activities honouring veterans who participated in this ongoing and pivotal wartime effort.

Soldier On May 4 2014

And as Canada prepares to hold its National Day of Honour this Friday, May 9, a group of 19 ill or injured veterans from the Afghanistan conflict kicked off the Soldier On Afghanistan Relay – a relay to salute the Canadians who participated in the Afghanistan war as well as the Canadian public for their support. Their trek was launched at the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial at CFB Trenton and will finish in Ottawa in time for the Day of Honour commemorative events at the end of this week.

Each of these events, and all those who participate, are a stark reminder of the importance of remembering our history and the efforts of all those who have served – whether in civilian or military roles.

Buy Firefight online at:
Chapters Indigo
Barnes & Noble

You can also ask your local Canadian or international bookseller.

Photo 1: “Officers paying their respects to the 254 fallen officers, including PC John Zivcic,” Laurie McCann, @thecoffeecop, Twitter, May 4, 2014.

Photo 2: “Honoured to lay a wreath on behalf of today for . We will remember their sacrifices at sea.” VAdm Mark Norman, @Comd_RCN, Twitter, Sunday, May 14, 2014.

Photo 3: “Standing on guard at Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial in Trenton to kick off Soldier On relay,” Claudia Cautillo, Claudio@CTV, Twitter, Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Firefight is on its way!

The creation of Firefight has happened over more than twenty years. My careers as a military soldier and as a civilian firefighter have produced many stories – some exciting, some funny and others that are purely horrifying. What they all have in common is that they actually happened. Throughout the years, I wrote about my experiences in Canada and on the other side of the world. Although I never considered myself a writer, something inside told me that what I was doing was important and that others might enjoy reading about what I had gone through.

Recording day-to-day events became part of my life as did telling these stories to my friends and family. Over and over again, people would say, “You should write a book!” and so that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Thanks to the support of many, Firefight is about to launch in May of 2014 through FriesenPress. I’m hopeful it will be available in time to help celebrate Canada’s National Day of Honour on May 9. This would be extremely meaningful for me as I served in Afghanistan as a psychological operations specialist in 2008 and 2009, was injured by an IED and then finished my tour following recovery. Upon returning to Canada, I was honoured to be one of the first Canadians to receive the newly created Sacrifice Medal and have also been working my way through PTSD.

Firefight includes my experiences as a solider with the Canadian Armed Forces and as a firefighter with Oshawa Fire Services. It also includes some description of my life “After Afghanistan,” as I joined Canadian civilian life once again. 

I’m excited that after all of this time, Firefight will be published soon. I hope that everyone who reads it will discover something that speaks to them – whether they’re a fellow soldier, firefighter or reader exploring life in the line of fire.

Buy Firefight online at:
Chapters Indigo
Barnes & Noble

You can also ask your local Canadian or international bookseller.