1909 in Sioux City--a small-town time of horse drawn fire carts and grade school knickers. Fourteen-year-old Ted runs errands at the firehouse, is accepted as one of the men; his sister Ruth Ellen is stuck on fireman Phil. Ted's attitude toward fire is ambiguous but he seems to revel in it. Against a movie set turn of the century atmosphere, slow action--a horse race out of town, a tragic fire and an amateur fair to buy an old fire horse. Mostly smoke.