I graduated from Stanford University, and expected to follow a career path that involved a briefcase and a bonus package. Instead, I picked up an axe and became a San Francisco firefighter. I wrote about this unlikely choice, and the ensuing adventures, in Fighting Fire, originally published in 1998. After publication I continued to work on one of the busiest rigs in the city. Recently I decided to update, revise, and reprint Fighting Fire. This version has an introduction, a spiffy new cover, and incidents that couldn’t make it into the original because they happened in the latter part of my 13-and-a-half year career.


"Writing with the knowledge and sensitivity of a participant-observer, Paul describes every face of firehouse culture, from the daily firehouse routine to the emotional experiences of lives saved and lost. In the end, readers also learn the story of how a young woman found - in one f the most life-threatening occupations - her own life's purpose." -- BOOKLIST

"A rare, fascinating look at the inner workings of an urban fire department, with plenty of thrills, adventure, and raw emotion. Between the quality of Paul's writing and the subject matter, her book will keep readers on edge until the very last page." -- LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

"Paul conveys the emotions of both fear of and attraction to danger that she believes drive dedicated firefighters." -- PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

"An outstanding account of one woman's struggle to prove her personal worth and courage and to make her place in a world previously reserved exclusively for men" -- KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Terrific... The grip of real fire fighting tensely, tactile, bruisingly described by a woman honest in examining her own thoughts, too. She confronts and homes in on what is going on and its fracturing impact." -- EDWARD HOAGLAND, author of Notes from the Century Before and The Courage of Turtles.

"Fire fighting is still a man's world, but Caroline tells her story without over-dramatizing or whining. And that works for me." -- JANE MAGAZINE

"While touching on the daily life in the firehouse and the sexism she encountered, Paul's lyrical writing comes most alive describing how, when one is faced with a burning building and the possibility of death, a firefighter has to give up philosophizing and plain Just Do It." -- GLAMOUR MAGAZINE

"This skillfully written memoir imparts an understanding if both the science of firefighting and the complicated alchemy among those men and women who brave the blazes" -- SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE