The Second Act

This is my second go-round with Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, having worked for the founder C. Peter Jorgensen, who hired me back in November 1998 as the first managing editor.
Please allow me to introduce myself. Unlike the opening lyrics to the Rolling Stones song, I am not a man of wealth and taste, but I have been around for a long, long time.
Ed Ballam

This is my second go-round with Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, having worked for the founder C. Peter Jorgensen, who hired me back in November 1998 as the first managing editor. Actually, I started working for Pete in 1996 as a freelance writer doing new delivery features. My name appears on the masthead in the second issue ever of the publication.

I found that copy, along with the original offer of employment letter from Pete, when I was cleaning out my office, getting ready for the second act. It was a bit of nostalgia for me as I read his letter. I remembered the feeling of excitement, anticipation, and honor. I confess that there was also a bit of apprehension too, as the magazine was a start-up operation, and those often don’t survive much past the first year.

One manufacturer predicted we wouldn’t make and said the fire industry didn’t need “another god damn fire publication.” He was wrong. We were different than the other magazines—on purpose.

From day one, we focused on stuff. At first, it was just fire apparatus, and we became known as the “truck book.” We were good at what we did and, a few short years later, we added emergency equipment to our subject matter. And we got good at that too, and the publication grew and got even better.

So, as you know, the magazine not only survived, it thrived. We built a stable of dedicated and talented writers; many continue to contribute to the publication to this day. We built relationships with manufacturers and vendors from coast to coast, as I traveled the nation writing company profiles. I made a lot of friends, and the magazine gained a lot of loyal readers.

I worked for FA&EE for more than 12 years; when Pete succumbed to cancer, his widow sold the publication to the predecessor of Clarion Events. At that time, I went to work for a competitor fire publication, where I was employed as the industry and product editor for about 10 years.

When I got a call asking if I was interested in taking the helm of FA&EE for a second time, I was once again excited, anticipatory, flattered, and honored. I was not, however, the least bit apprehensive. FA&EE is a strong, mature publication with a kick-butt Web site, something that we didn’t have back in the day, and a very loyal following of readers and supporting advertising. As a firefighter and an EMT, being the senior editor of a magazine about fire stuff is kind of a dream job.

Going forward, FA&EE’s mission will continue to be trucks and stuff. It’s crystal clear in my mind that we need to continue focusing on the things first responders use every day to save lives and protect property. I promise, we will continue to shine the light on cutting edge technology and innovations developed for apparatus and equipment. It’s what we did from day one, and it’s what we do best.

My new boss, Bobby Halton, editor in chief of sister publication Fire Engineering and education director of FDIC International, made it perfectly clear that I needed to stay in my lane and remain true to the trucks and stuff mantra that has made FA&EE what it is today. Fire Engineering, a storied publication with a long history, will continue to take care of fire service training.

FA&EE and Fire Engineering make great partners. One publication tells you about the stuff and what’s new, and the other tells you how to use it, manage it, train with it, and learn how to get it. The union is perfection.

So, moving forward, I would love to hear from you, our readers, about what you’d like to see more of. What are the topics you’d like to read about? What are some of your favorite parts of FA&EE? And, maybe even tell me what you don’t like, and we can review whether it stays or goes. We are also looking for contributed stories and writers who have good ideas.

As the new editor, even though I am on my second time around, I want to make the publication better, fresh, and relevant. We’ll look for new and exciting adventures and avenues to explore, but we will never forget our focus—trucks and stuff. That’s a promise.

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