How to buy fire books

By Greg Friese

Web sites such as are good resources for news, events, and reference material. Nonetheless, there is still a lot information you can find faster in a book or read more effectively when it is printed on paper.

Whether it is for your initial training, next refresher class, or downtime reading, here are the top five things to consider when purchasing books:

1. When buying any textbook, new or used, make sure you are purchasing the correct edition. Textbooks are published frequently and you want to have the most up-to-date information. If the edition you find online or in a catalog is newer than what was specified by your instructor check with your instructor about using the newer edition.

2. Compare prices between the campus bookstore and online sites. Shipping costs can make the price of online shopping the same as buying local. Also make sure to understand return and resale policies.

3. There are lots of places to purchase books. Before making any purchase, I first post the name and edition of the book I am seeking on You can find some real bargains searching and posting "want" ads there. Sites such as also often carry used books in excellent conditions, but make sure to get the correct edition, review seller ratings from past buyers, and factor shipping costs into the total purchase price. Also, consider online bookstores that specialize in serving the needs of firefighters and other public safety students and professionals.

4. Read the reviews written by other readers if they are available. I always skip the publisher submitted details and go direct to the feedback of other readers. Also ask for the personal recommendations of specialty bookstore/site owners and employees. They are often personally familiar with all of the books they carry and in many cases even know the authors.

Any other suggestions of favorite books for on or off duty? Where do you shop for EMS books? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

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