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This cartoon was never meant to be a caricature of Chief Brunacini when I drew it in 2009, but he certainly inspired it (which is why I subconsciously drew a resemblance, I suppose). A few years ago he asked me about this cartoon and said I should have drawn a festive floral shirt on the character - I was FLOORED to know he followed my work.
Last year during FDIC he was being presented with an ornamental fire helmet that was packaged in a plain brown box. I was asked to draw something on the box, which I did with pleasure. When the helmet was presented to Chief Brunacini he, as always, graciously accepted the honor and posed for photos. He looked at the box, look at me standing off to the side and pointed with a smile, and then gave me a thumbs-up in appreciation - that made my day! That was Chief Brunacini - a walking legend who always made time to show his appreciation to others. There are those who walk the halls of the fire service with their pretentious self-promoting importance (you know who you are!), but Chief Brunacini was the embodiment of what a leader should be - confident yet humble, intelligent yet a student, commanding yet gracious, experienced yet curious.
I will miss our chats at the PennWell Books booth and have several amazing memories of our conversations. Thank you for your leadership and passion, Chief - we will pass it forward!

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