I've reread this book a couple times and bought copies for friends. I think that the author does an excellent job of what he sets out to do, namely depicting the making of an accidental fireman. He stumbles into a job with the Oakland fire department, and finds humor, tragedy, and fulfillment along the way. He portrays his many initiations, with coworkers, with working conditions, and with more profound questions that he perhaps hadn't seen coming.
The prose is articulate, the dialogue is animated, and the material is diverse and fascinating. Overall it is a very lively read, and truly hard to put down.