This movie is a love letter to firemen in general. Specifically it shows the life of a fireman (Joaquin Phoenix) from the time he is a rookie and meeting the girl who he will marry and with whom he will make a family. This is shown through flashbacks and although there are plenty of fire fighting scenes I found it strangely passionless, which is how Tom felt also. Not that I didn't sniffle a few times over poignant scenes. Also, I feel, now more than ever, what a hero anyone who is a fire fighter must be to take on such a job. However, as an effective movie ... ho hum.
If you want a great movie about firemen with an interesting plot, rent Backdraft.