How real is it?
I was in full protective gear and breathing the air from my SCBA. My camera encased in a custom built protective box.
Not far from the fire, and just a few feet from me, the recruits knelt and waited for instruction from the Captain. They were tired from their descent through the stifling heat of the stairwell. (Stairwells act as chimneys, creating a path for the heat and smoke to reach upper floors. This is one of the hottest areas of a fire building.)
From the glow of the fire I watched the Captain begin his instruction. I strained to hear his voice as it competed with the mechanical regulators and spring-loaded diaphragms generating the raspy sounds of the recruit’s heavy breathing. "Slow your breathing down! Slow it down!" yelled the Captain, "You need to conserve the air in your bottle!"
The recruits did a penguin dance as they shifted their weight from one knee to the next, trying to lessen the burn from a superheated concrete floor. The Captain continued "Are your knees hot? Is there fire below you? Is there fire behind you? Think, think, think! Gotta be thinking you guys, always!" The nozzle opened up and seconds later a wall of steam hammered the firefighters, drawing their attention from the burning knees. They wanted out, but the Captain stayed his ground and they stayed with him. "How are your hands? A little toasty, huh?"
The camera had been in the fire room too long. Its protective case was saturated with heat – cooking the camera inside. I needed a few more seconds, but the audio was breaking up. The Captain’s microphone was melting.
Hollywood paints the picture: Big flames, fire on the left, fire on the right, fire rolling across the ceiling. Impressive!
Hollywood fills the frame with the flame to compensate for lack of heat and smoke. But it is not reality. And it’s far from the intensity of the real thing. Unfortunately this is our sole window into the inner workings of a structure fire. And this is the catalyst for "Ricky’s Rib Shack, A Firefighter’s Journey".
Rob Bieber; filmmaker and retired Firefighter, teams with cinematographer and lifelong filmmaker; Jim Goldsworthy, to bring to the silver screen a vision of reality that is arguably the definitive documentary of Firefighting on the inside. To show you the training, the sweat and dedication that every firefighter must endure to prepare for their journey into the fire. This is what our film is about, and to bring it to you in such a way that puts you there, as close to the action as humanly possible.
During filming, the filmmakers experienced the intense heat, steam, and every sensation felt by the recruits. They and their equipment were struck by swinging axe handles, drenched by high-pressure water streams. They were slammed into concrete walls and pelted by falling ceiling tiles. After five months of filming they possessed two damaged cameras, one melted microphone, and 140 hours of spectacular footage.
Powerful – Emotional – Sometimes Comical, but always illuminating.