Brian McCaffrey(William Baldwin)'s father's a fireman and he was there, as a child, when his father died. When he grew he tried to be a fireman but quit and left town and for a few years tried other jobs. He would eventually return and try to be fireman again. However, he finds himself working under his brother Stephen(Kurt Russell) whom he doesn't exactly have a good relationship with. When Brian gets his picture in the paper and is lauded as a hero when in fact it was a mistake, a politician offers him a job working under the department's arson investigator, Donald Rimgale(Robert De Niro). It seems that Ringale is working some unusual fires wherein someone is killed. Brian initially refuses but when he has too many confrontations with Stephen, he takes the job. And he gets a lesson on what it means to be a fireman.