SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A 5-minute, documentary-style video featuring a day in the life at the Shreveport Fire Department's Central Fire Station is beginning to get some buzz on social media.
Featuring SFD's 2014 Firefighter of the Year, 30-year-old Fernando Gonzalez, the video was shot, written and edited by fellow firefighter and paramedic John Phelan as his final exam project for a course in video and film production.
It turns out that Phelan did such a good job with the video that SFD Chief Scott Wolverton is looking into using it as a recruiting tool, as well.
Phelan, 32, is a 9-year veteran of the fire service, studying film and production on the GI Bill after serving 4 years in the Army as a medic that included a 6 month tour in Baghdad, Iraq.
Phelan's passion for video and film production is exceeded only by his love for the fire service, which is why he was inspired to choose it as his subject matter when given a choice of assignments that included "a day in the life" style of story-telling.
"Other videos show bits and pieces of what we do, but I wanted to show how intense the job can be and just show that it's something that we love to do and put our hearts into."
Plus, he says, "I'm at the fire station 10 24-hour shifts a month, so it was a no-brainer."
Gonzalez, a hoseman who has been with the SFD for just over a year, was glad to help bring Phelan's vision of "Day in the Life...Shreveport Fire" to life.
"This is the toughest, most intense job I have ever had," Gonzalez says in the video. "But it's worth it. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Told against an inspiring track by Instrumental Core that blends dubstep and orchestral music, the video takes on an epic vibe, but it doesn't just rely on the low-hanging fruit of fire calls with real flames and lives at stake for all of its drama.
Using Gonzalez' perspective, Phelan shares the sense of pride in the fire service in every aspect, from keeping the firehouse and equipment clean and maintained to training and supporting one another when the intensity of the work gets to them.
Gonzalez recounts how a fellow firefighter reached out to him after his first code, in which the patient didn't make it. "He saw that I was kind of bothered by it. He went in there and he talked to me. That's what we do, as brothers. We talk to each other and say, 'Hey, are you okay?' I love that part of the job, I really do."
Phelan says that was important for him to capture with this project. "Everyone I work with would lay down their life and I would do the same, and I just wanted to bring that emotion to it."
Most of the video was shot in February with the permission of the fire department administration, using a drone cam, helmet cam, a go-pro and a Canon T5i.
It includes dramatic helmet-cam footage from actual fire calls, as well as from training exercises and demonstrations given by the fire department. The drone camera footage offers broad, soaring views of Shreveport. One such shot begins on the skyline and tilts down to feature numerous fire trucks, emergency lights flashing, responding to a fire call in the Highland neighborhood.
Phelan says he hasn't received his grade yet for his work, but it's more important to him that more people see the fire department how he and Gonzalez see it. He hopes it will also help open the door to more opportunities to tell positive and inspiring stories about the fire service and the people dedicated to it.
As for his next project, Phelan says he wants to feature the women of Shreveport Fire Department because he still finds that most people don't realize there are females in the fire service.