RICHMOND, Ind. — The firefighters wore full gear, including their breathing systems, and carried a hose as they waited outside the front door to enter an abandoned house and put out a fire.

Brian Cox wore a black overcoat and carried a camera as he approached the front door to record video of the firefighters extinguishing the fire. Black smoke poured through the doorway above Cox as he filmed the footage Friday morning.

“It’s wonderful, exhilarating, really fun,” he said of getting close to the fire.

RFD hopes middle school students will feel the same thing when they watch the video Cox, a Richmond native who owns Sound and Silence Films, produces with a week’s worth of footage shot of firefighters involved in a variety of tasks. Shoots included ropes, confined spaces, LifeLine’s helicopter, a staged auto accident and, of course, the live burn.

“The main goal is to put together a hard-hitting, fast-paced promotional video for our high school program to get middle school students thinking about this career early,” said RFD Chief Jerry Purcell.

The high school program, which is in its fourth year, offers a firefighting course and an emergency medical technician course through the Richmond Area Career Center at Richmond High School. Purcell wants to build students’ interest in hopes they’ll participate in the high school program then pursue an RFD career.

“It’s doing very well, but it will do better if we can recruit kids earlier,” Purcell said.

Establishing a pipeline of interested career firefighters through the school program could help ease RFD’s hiring difficulties. The department is six firefighters down out of 75 line positions, Purcell said. That results in overtime strains on the budget and strains on the members working extra shifts.

“There’s wear and tear definitely on everybody with filling those roles constantly,” Purcell said.

Where RFD would once conduct hiring campaigns every couple of years and draw more than 100 applicants, hiring has become a struggle.

“It has become that in recent years,” Purcell said. “We have open hiring all the time and we’re not able to get enough applicants to fill our ranks.”

Another hiring campaign will begin in about a month, Purcell said, and the department has eliminated EMT certification as a hiring requirement. An applicant will be hired, then will go through EMT training.

“That will open the door a little more for local possible applicants,” said Purcell, noting that anyone interested in becoming a Richmond firefighter should call the department at 765-983-7266.

While dropping the EMT requirement might provide short-term benefits, the promotional video could help long term by establishing a pool of students interested in a firefighting career. Purcell said about 1,000 clips will be woven into a six-minute video.

“It’s been an extremely busy week, but they’ve shot a lot of good footage,” he said.

Cox, who lives in Chicago, and Rebecca Ciprus, a Chicago-based photographer, spent five days with RFD, even staying at Station One.

“It’s really fun,” said Cox, who will soon move the company to Alameda, Calif. “They are really incredibly nice guys who are really generous and friendly.”

Purcell saw a video Cox produced for a hair salon and liked the way the film’s mood was set. He found out that Cox was from Richmond and pursued Sound and Silence Films to create RFD’s video. Cox said this video is different from the slower, cinematic films he normally creates because it needs to appeal to students.

“It’s a much different shoot,” he said. “It needs to be faster-paced and the music needs to relate to kids that age. And it needs to be short.”

After Cox wrapped shooting by getting some footage of RFD’s Honor Guard at Friday’s ceremony commemorating the downtown explosions, he said it will take a couple of production months to complete the film.

When it’s done, though, there’s little doubt it will showcase firefighting up close because Cox was able to literally live and breathe firefighting.

“The smoke makes you get down further to the ground, and you get it in your lungs,” he said Friday after emerging from smoke created by fires set using old, donated furniture from Richmond Furniture Gallery. “I thought I could see my breath, but it was smoke. It’s been fun.”


Source: (Richmond) Palladium-Item, https://pinews.co/2H788fM


Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the (Richmond) Palladium-Item.

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MIKE EMERY
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