“I fight fire, save lives and property. What do you do?”


Episodes in Memoir of a Fire Chief recount over forty-five years in the life of a firefighter, beginning with the author’s entry as a green rookie in the 1960s, to becoming a fire chief dedicated to protecting the lives of firefighters. Jim Sparr’s story touches on countless issues along the way including:

  • health & safety
  • appearance & substance
  • character & values
  • race & gender
  • employee development

A well done, interesting and exciting story of a firefighter’s growth and advancement. I applaud it and suggest that our first responders take a look at it between alarms­ – Chief Sparr is a man of action and accomplishment.”

– Dennis Smith, Best-selling author of Report from Engine Co. 82

Jim Sparr's Book Memoir of a Fire Chief
Fire Chief Badges

Paying Attention in Life

In Memoir of a Fire Chief, Jim shares stories of how the influences of family, friends, people we admire, professions, experiences, religion, and education shape our being. Sometimes he’s the guru dispensing wisdom, other times the one receiving life’s lessons. Jim is always intense whether he’s condemning certain political practices, identifying problems in our educational system, or expressing humor at the simple wonders life provides. He believes that paying attention in life will improve one’s thinking ability, help separate substance from appearance, and teach one how to think versus what to think. His individual stories will demonstrate for the reader how to pay attention.


“Life is interesting and all you have to do is pay attention.”

“Don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions,
and I will help you pick the best one.”

Selected photographs from the book are below.

Jim Sparr, Lieutenant


The city commission abolished all hair codes for city employees. Firefighters got a “promotional haircut” if they were on the promotional list, then regrew their hair length after a promotion.

Fire fighter training "picking up horses"

Pink on Top

This feat was called “picking up horses.” The memoir has the full story about this feat and how the nickname “Pink” came to be.

International City Manager Association (ICMA) table

ICMA Table

Division chief Roberts and I built this International City Manager Association (ICMA) table for our city manager Gene Denton who was devoted to the ICMA principle of excellence in public service.

Jim Sparr - lifelong dream -flying in a military jet.

Backseat Warrior

The memoir tells the full story about flying in a military jet and why this lifelong wish was important.