Ever since 9/11, Americans have been well aware of the intrinsic connection between a city and its firefighters. In no city is this relationship more dramatic and indicative of a town’s character than in Detroit. Since 1950, the population of Detroit has dwindled from an original level of 1.8 million citizens.
Today, it’s half that size, and racial tensions, social problems, struggling businesses and abandoned houses are on the rise. The conflation of all these different aspects results in quite a bit of fires, as Detroit has one of the highest rates of arson in the entire world. For some comparison, Los Angeles’s population of 4 million experiences about 11 structure fires each day, while Detroit’s 713,000 see 30 such fires.
Tasked with the job of handling these fires fall to fire crews like Engine Company 50, one of the country’s busiest firehouses and the subject of a new documentary from filmmakers Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez. “Burn: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit,” is an in-depth look at the lives of firefighters who put their health on the line every day for Detroit. They receive a modest pay, and haven’t seen a raise in 10 years. Their stories are as tragic as they are inspiring, and provide a frank and raw examination of real American heroes.
Brenna Sanchez, Co-Producer & Co-Director, “Burn”; Sanchez is a Detroit native, based in Los Angeles
Tom Putnam, Co-Producer & Co-Director, “Burn”
Brendan Milewski aka “Doogie”, firefighter from Engine Company 50 in Detroit featured in the movie