It's long past midnight in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and firefighter Mark Merrell of Engine 255 is explaining to me why medals aren't important and being called a hero doesn't matter all that much.
"What you try to achieve is for somebody to say, 'you're a good fireman.' That's probably the biggest compliment you can get," he says. "And that don't come easy."
The firehouse kitchen erupts in laughter. Mark smiles, because it's a tough crowd and he knows I know that. But I'm spending twenty-four hours with the firefighters of Engine Company 255 and Ladder Company 157 -- one of the busiest firehouses in New York - and I'm ready for pretty much anything.
The FDNY granted us total access and even provided a chase car with lights, siren and a driver.
Eyewitness News photographer Josh Hartmann and I followed them on virtually every run. There was just one restriction: Don't show the cooking. Why? "It's corny," they told me. (But the chicken marsala was excellent, I have to say.)