Asbury Park Firefighter Jason “Faz” Fazio continues to hold the hearts and minds of area residents as he moves forward in his recovery from a horrible accident while working, earlier this year.

A new photo book about Jason, “Faz: Portrait of a hero,” created by photographer and part-time Asbury Park resident Alan Barnett, emotionally and beautifully captures the spirit and energy of Asbury’s favorite firefighter.

I spoke with Alan, who met Jason two years ago while photographing the “Firefighters of Asbury Park” 2010 calendar about his book.

TBP:  The book you created about Jason is part of a bigger project you are working on.

Alan:  I have been working on a documentary photography project with the Asbury Park Fire Department.  When I heard about Jason’s horrible accident, I began communicating with his girlfriend Barbara.

My love for Jason and Barbara made me realize I have all these photos from the documentary project and that I could do something with the photos to help Jason.  Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the Asbury Park Firefighters IAFF Local 384 for Jason Fazio’s recovery and the APFD Documentary Photography Project.

The book is a personal gift to his friends and family as well as a fundraiser for Jason and his family.

TBP:  As with everything Jason does, he embraced your project and helped a lot, right?

Alan:  I have so many photos of him and his amazing personality – at work and play.  He was always one of the first firefighters to help me.

The book is for people who know and love Jason and the community members who didn’t necessarily know Jason but have grown close to him through learning about what happened to him.

I thought that the book should make people feel like they know Jason better whether they have met him or not.  And not only know him but the life of the firefighter, too.

TBP:  Was it difficult to create and produce the book?

Alan:  I put this book together in four solid days.  Hours and hours but it didn’t feel like work.  I cried through the whole thing.

One of the hardest parts is to edit the photos.  I kept a library of the documentary project so I filtered through thousands of photos and then the hundreds of photos of Jason.

Then I edited the photos down in a way to tell the story I wanted to tell about Jason.

TBP:  Along with photos, you included quotes posted to the Facebook page dedicated to sending love and good energy to Jason (search “APFF Jason Fazio”).

Alan:  I sorted through 3000 quotes on Facebook to find the best quotes that expressed universal love for Jason.

The book has 70 images and 21 quotes.

TBP:  Do you have a photo that speaks to you the most?

Alan:  A really emotional photo is the last photo in the book that says they are limiting the number of visitors at the hospital.  And right next to that is the empty hook where his uniform used to hang.

The other photo that stands out to me is of Jason and Gavino Siciliano at Firefighter Scott Habermann’s wedding.  That photo shows the deep love between the firefighters who consider themselves all brothers.

Firefighter or not, everyone totally loves Jason because he is an open and caring guy.  I hope the book makes it so everyone can see that he is a universally happy, caring, gracious, loving, giving, friendly guy.

To learn more or purchase “Faz: Portrait of a hero,” log on to AlanBarnettPhoto.com.