An Architectural and Social History, by Rebecca Zurier with photographs by A. Pierce Bounds (Abbeville, $29.95). The story of firehouse architecture in America is not just about buildings but society. Firefighting, being a crucial job in early American life, soon attracted the public spirited who formed volunteer companies, bought equipment, and constructed garages to protect their pumpers and wagons. As cities expanded, so did the importance of the volunteers, until it was only the wealthy who could afford to join. George Washington, one of our earliest firemen, was probably typical in his day. As the volunteers became wealthier, their firehouses grew more elaborate and took on the aspects of clubhouses as well as garages. If was only after the Civil War, when larger municipalities started taking over the firefighting function that firehouses began to look more like municipal buildings that private clubs. As expressions of their engine companies' wealth, self-image, and often self-importance, fire houses had individuality of design, although almost all were built with towers to house bells and dry hoses. Although this book has no color plates, its black-and-white photographs are excellent, with an eye for detail and the whimsey which seems often to show up in firehouse architecture.