Friday, October 19, 2012

Orland hosts local premiere of new movie on Firefighters

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Orland hosts local premiere of new movie on Firefighters

The Orland Fire Protection District was a proud co-sponsor of the recent premier showing of a new documentary on the challenges of firefighters in Detroit called “Burn: One Year on the Frontlines of the Battle to Save Detroit.”

The premier was held at the Orland Park Marcus Theaters 400-seat UltraScreen theater with two showings on Thursday October 18 that featured the documentary producers and stars.

Producer/director Brenna Sanchez was at the theater to introduce the film to a packed audience of firefighters and supporters including a large representation from the Orland Fire Protection District.

Above, pictured from left: Ted Copley, Chief Ken Brucki,
Brendan “Doogie” Milewski and David Parnell

Above, pictured from left: Ted Copley, Chief Ken Brucki,
Brendan “Doogie” Milewski, David Parnell and Engineer David Nagle and Lt. William Leddin.

“We were told there was no interest in a film about fire fighters,” Sanchez said before the premiere. “We have waited two years to see this film and I want to thank all of you for your support. This film can make an impact. It has a potential to change minds. We need your help to spread the word.”

Burn follows the crew of Engine Company 50 – one of the busiest firehouses in America. Located on Detroit’s blighted East Side, E50 stands at “ground zero” of the city’s problems, the film’s website explains. The starting salary of a Detroit fire fighter is only $30,000 a year and they haven’t seen a raise in 10 years, the documentary points out.

Sanchez thanked MSA, the leading manufacturer of high-quality safety products for police, fire and emergency service personnel, saying that “They got involved with us very early on and we couldn’t do it without their help.”

Representatives of MSA premier channel partners, Air One Equipment, Inc from South Elgin, Illinois attended the opening. Owners Dave and Sandy Frey and a staff of over 10 volunteers donated their time and worked the premieres at the theaters in Orland Park and Rosemont to help with the set up and the sales of merchandise which all went directly to “BURN.” MSA President William Lambert was featured in the film.

The film focused on the lives of a handful of firefighters in Detroit, which is described as having more fires each year than any other majority city in the country. Detroit has more than 80,000 abandoned structures, which accounts for the high fire and arson rate, the movie details.

“I was very impressed by how the film captured the challenges that the firefighters in Detroit have to face,” said OFPD Chief Ken Brucki.

At the start of the film showing, the district’s Color Guard posted the American Flag.

Several of the Detroit firefighters who are featured in the in the film including Ted Copley of Detroit’s Ladder 12, retired fire fighter Brendan “Doogie” Milewski, and retired Fire fighter David Parnell came to Chicago for the premiere which also included sold-out showings at theaters in Rosemont.

Parnell served as a Field Engineer Operator for Engine 50 until his recent retirement. Milewski was paralyzed from the chest down when the bricks of a burning building collapsed and him and other firefighters on Friday August 13, 2010.

Milewski became a fire fighter at age 20 serving 11 years before his tragic accident.

“I remember that day very well. Friday the 13th. I had a bad feeling when I saw the building as soon as I saw the fire,” Milewski said during a question and answer session that followed the documentary showing.

Sanchez said that they hope the film will receive national distribution, but currently is being slated in select theaters across the country. It returns for a second Chicagoland engagement Dec. 7 through the 13th. The documentary is not yet fully funded for national release, Sanchez said.

The film’s web site is and the Facebook page is

It is backed by Hollywood start Denis Leary who established a foundation to help fire fighters who have been injured fighting fires and the families of firefighters who have been killed. Parts of the profits from the documentary will go to the Leary Firefighters Foundation (

Photos courtesy of Ray Hanania and OFPD Battalion Chief Dan Smith