First In

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
First In TV Poster Image
Gritty firefighter reality show is positive but sensational.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series shows how firefighters and EMS personnel risk their lives and make personal sacrifices to help their community.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Firefighters and EMS workers are committed to helping people. Many struggle with balancing their home lives with their emergency response work. The Compton FD has a program for at-risk teens. The fire department appears to be all-male.


Contains images of people wounded by fire, gunshots, vehicle crashes, and other violent events. Gunshots are audible and bullet casings are visible. Bloody wounds and blood spatters are often visible. People are shown being pulled out from under cars, airplanes, and other vehicles. Many deaths are a result of gang violence; discussions about gang activity are frequent. The faces of some of the wounded and the dead are blurred. Occasionally people who are high on drugs behave violently. EMS technicians are shown putting needles into victims.


Occasionally clothing must be removed from victims to administer aid, but this removal is not visible. All nudity is blurred.


Words like “f--k” and “s--t” are bleeped. Obscene gestures are blurred.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some emergency responses deal with people who are suffering from alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. The effects of drugs like PCP are discussed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series about first responders contains lots of disturbing images of injured and/or dead people (faces blurred), as well as bloody wounds, and people being extracted from horrific accidents. Occasional profanity (“f--k,” “s--t”) is bleeped. EMS personnel often respond to alcohol and drug overdoses. Despite all of this, the series sends some very positive messages about the sacrifices fire departments make to keep their communities safe.

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What's the story?

FIRST IN follows the activities of the Compton Fire Department in Southern California as the staff responds to life-threatening emergencies in and around its community. Cameras follow as firefighters like Marcel Melanson and Shon Halverson race to the scene to help contain fires, aid accident victims, and provide assistance wherever needed. Meanwhile, emergency medical staffers like Jerome Goodall do everything they can to get victims to hospitals in time to receive life-saving medical assistance. In between calls, viewers get a glimpse at how rookies attempt to survive their probationary period in order to become full-fledged firefighters. We also get some insight into the different kinds of personal sacrifices members of the Compton FD make in order to help their community.

Is it any good?

The reality series, which is narrated by actor Tyrese Gibson, highlights how firefighters and EMS personnel risk their lives when responding to fire emergencies, airplane accidents, and gang shootings. It also demonstrates how their training helps them get dangerous and often chaotic situations under control.

The constant images of severely injured people, bloody wounds, and dead bodies make the show a little sensational. But the overall series is very nonjudgmental. It underscores how this team goes out of its way to save people’s lives, regardless of who they are or how they became injured. It’s not for the faint of heart, but for those who can handle it, it contains positive messages about the people who work hard to make our communities safe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the work that firefighters and emergency response teams do on a daily basis. What kind of training do they have to have in order to do their jobs? How do they handle the pressure of working with severely injured people and/or situations that put their own lives at risk? 

  • Is it ever necessary to show violence and/or violent images on television? What if it is in context? Do you think the violent images shown here add or take away to the overall message of this show? Why?

TV details

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