scan 4 (1) 2

Time Bomb – Michael Morse

by Michael Morse, contributing writer

Photo: Lieutenant Ralph “Time Bomb” DeAngelis, USAF, Providence Fire Department (ret.) courtesy of Eric Norberg 

There were some tough guys back then, back in ’91 when I was a new guy and didn’t say much. Guys in their mid-forties, guys who also didn’t say much but for far different reasons, guys who got on the Fire Department before it was a sought after position and were the heart and soul of the Providence Fire Department.

I remember watching them work, there was something different about it, grim determination I guess is the best way to describe it. For me, a good building fire was exciting, a chance to prove myself, an opportunity to get better, and something to take pride in when the job went well.

They had done all that. They were fast, efficient, formidable, and to be honest, they scared the heck out of me. These weren’t the stern but approachable officers I learned from in the Academy; these were seasoned firemen. And they were damned good. Tough as nails. Confident, and for the most part, quiet. They did their share in the stations, and then some; taught by doing, led with their presence, and showed me, a guy with next to no experience, what it took to do the job.

They were Vietnam Veterans, and when that was done, they became firemen. 

I never thanked them. One by one they retired, and before long, they were gone. 

It’s a bit late, but a sincere thank you to those Veterans who joined the fire service after returning from war; fought more fires in a month than I did all year and taught me a lot about being not just a fireman, but a man.


Michael Morse spent 23 years as a firefighter/EMT with the Providence Fire Department before retiring in 2013 as Captain, Rescue Co. 5. He is an author of several books, most offering fellow firefighter/EMTs and the general population alike a poignant glimpse into one person’s journey through life, work and hope for the future. He is a Warwick resident.


  1. Carmine Vallante on November 12, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Did you know that there were others who came from WW2 and some that came from Korea after serving in those wars why didn’t they get a mention?

  2. Karen DeAngelis on November 12, 2021 at 1:14 am

    THANK-YOU !!!!

    • MICHAEL MORSE on November 13, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      Hello Carmine, those guys were retired before I started, never had the pleasure of working with them. Theirs is a worthy story, I’m sure.

    • MICHAEL MORSE on November 13, 2021 at 4:22 pm

      You are very welcome, here’s something your dad enjoyed…