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Pittsburgh firefighter's son, 6, bases book on events in dad's job

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 11:39 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh firefighter Josh Colbert, 33, of Morningside with son Jaden, 6, at Pittsburgh Fire Station #19 in Swisshelm Park on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Jaden authored a children's book, 'My Dad Is A Firefighter.'
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh firefighter Josh Colbert, 33, of Morningside with son Jaden, 6, at Pittsburgh Fire Station #19 in Swisshelm Park Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Jaden authored a children's book, 'My Dad Is A Firefighter.'

When 6-year-old Jaden Colbert grew tired of sharing an iPad with his brother and sister, he asked his dad to buy him one.

Dad said no. Not with my money.

But Joshua Colbert, seizing an opportunity to teach his son a life lesson, offered a compromise: You can have an iPad, he said, if you raise the $600 or so needed to buy it.

“If you want something, create something,” Colbert told his son.

That's what Jaden did.

He wrote a self-published children's book, “My Dad is a Firefighter,” based on his father, who works at Pittsburgh's No. 19 Fire Station in Swisshelm Park.

“My dad is a firefighter, and I think that's so cool,” Jaden said, explaining his inspiration.

Available online at Amazon.com, the book has sold about 1,000 copies since January. Jaden gets about $4 per copy, more than enough for his iPad.

“That was definitely one of the proudest days of my life, to be able to go to the store and buy an iPad with his money,” said Colbert, a Morningside resident and nine-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau. “The rest is going to his college fund.”

Dad “helped me with some of the words” in writing the book, Jaden said.

An employee at a Downtown marketing firm that the elder Colbert owns, Mozo Marketing, handled the illustrations.

The book is based on real events, the Colberts said.

“He said that sometimes the smoke is so bad it can turn the sky black,” Jaden wrote. “And sometimes it's so cold he can feel the ice break on his back.”

The two bonded while working on the book.

“It felt good,” Colbert said. “It was nice reminiscing with him. He says he wants to be a firefighter, but I think most kids do.”

He told his son about a fire he fought in the Hill District, before Jaden was born. It was pitch black inside the smoky house, and one of his firefighting “brothers” fell through a hole in the living room floor and broke his leg.

“Being a firefighter can be dangerous, that's for sure,” Jaden wrote. “He told me one day his officer fell through the floor.”

Firefighter Colbert also is an author. He wrote “Male by Birth, Man by Choice,” a how-to-be-a-man guide that targets teenagers and young men.

In helping his son write a book, he taught Jaden to set a goal, make a plan and follow it through.

It seems Jaden also learned something about capitalism.

“My next book will be called ‘My Mom is a Math Teacher,' ” he said. “Then I can buy an iPhone!”

Chris Togneri is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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