Fire Chasers

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Fire Chasers TV Poster Image
Wildfire docu is informative, artistic, and disturbing.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Looks at how wildfires start and are fought: the infrastructure of firefighting exists to keep people safe. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Men and women firefighters are featured. They aren't perfect, but they put their lives on the line when doing their job.

Violence

Images of catastrophic fires destroying homes, landscapes; descriptions of loss. 

Sex
Language

Occasional curses like "goddamn" and "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarettes are a potential cause of fires.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fire Chasers is a documentary series about the people who fought the 2016 California wildfires. It contains some disturbing images of massive fires, and shows trees, homes, and other infrastructures burning down. Property damage, injuries, and loss of life are also discussed. There's some cursing, but families with teens should be able to appreciate this eye-opening take on this challenging profession. 

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What's the story?

FIRE CHASERS is a documentary series about the people who put their lives on the line to fight fires in the backcountry of California. It's the 2016 fire season, and cameras follow the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Cal Fire and reveal how their staff train hard and work relentlessly to protect people and property from the catastrophic wildfires that are erupting around the state. It also showcases the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's program to train nonviolent prisoners to be firefighters. Interviews with experts and local government officials provide information about the environmental and financial factors that are impacting their ability to fight fires effectively. Professional and volunteer firefighters discuss what they do while on and off the job, and victims talk about their experience and loss. Meanwhile, artists Jeff Frost and Andrea Dale travel throughout California to film and photograph the blazes and the destruction they cause.

Is it any good?

This impressive, artistic, and intense series offers an in-depth look at firefighters' heroic efforts to put out the massive blazes that impact California every year. While it notes that human carelessness is the number one cause of wildfires, it also addresses climate change's effect on the environment where fires propagate, leading to bigger blazes and longer fire seasons. It also points to the need to adapt to these changes, as well as the lack of resources currently available to help the crews do their jobs. 

In many ways the documentary is a visual masterpiece, thanks to featured photographs and creative cinematography that reveal the enormity and unexpected beauty of these phenomena. But Fire Chasers' overall narrative is committed to showing the bravery, commitment, and complex coordination that goes into battling them. It also shows how wildfires are indicators of larger issues that impact everyone, no matter where we live, and tells us why we should all be paying attention. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it takes to become a firefighter. What kind of specific skills must you have to fight fires? Why do you think people choose this career?

  • Fire Chasers features different people from all walks of life fighting fires, or training to become firefighters. What are some of the messages it sends about who can fight fires and why?

  • If there is a fire in your community, who should you call? What should you do? Check out Fema.gov/kids/ to learn the answers to these questions and more. 

TV details

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