Regional fire service comes across well in reality TV show

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The premiere episode of the Discovery series Hellfire Heroes made a pretty good impression, at least if the comments of people who attended the screening at the Legacy Centre are anything to go by. Hosted by the Town of Slave Lake, the screening doubled as an opportunity to show off the Legacy Centre, which the town is keen to do. About 30 people showed up, paid five dollars admission and enjoyed some free popcorn.

Introducing the show, mayor Tyler Warman explained how it came about; members of the Toronto production crew suited up and rode with the fire department for two or three months, filming everything. The result is a ‘reality’ show, in amped-up dramatic style common in those things.

What was most impressive – and this came through loud and clear when Warman asked attendees for their thoughts at the end of the show – was the work of the firefighters on an actual house fire. This is the kind of thing most citizens don’t get to see, let alone participate in, and the filming put viewers right in the middle of the action. It gave them a sense of the competence and capability of the men and women who suit up and respond to such calls – many of whom are volunteers.

“It was a great showcase for the hard work of the fire department,” said Warman in a subsequent interview. “We’re seeing it as a recruitment tool.”

The firefighters viewed the episode at the fire hall. Chief Coutts downplayed the reception at that location.

“It was okay,” he said. “We don’t like to do things to draw attention to ourselves.”

Like it or not, they’ll be getting quite a bit of it over the next while. Hellfire Heroes airs every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. for the next seven weeks.

Firefighter Logan Skahl on screen, talking about his first time inside a burning structure.

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