St. Clair Shores Resident Featured in Firefighter Documentary 'BURN'
Detroit Senior Firefighter Dave Miller, a St. Clair Shores resident, is featured in the Denis Leary-produced documentary "BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit."
The Tribeca Film Festival is a long way from Engine Company 50 on Detroit's eastside for Senior Firefighter Dave Miller.
Miller, a 42-year-old St. Clair Shores resident, is one of Detroit firefighters featured in "BURN," a documentary chronicling the day-to-day life inside a firehouse.
"BURN" takes viewers into the heart of the fire—including an intense opening sequence in the heart of a fire which utilized film shot with a camera mounted on Miller's helmet. It also graphically shows the challenges of working in a cash-strapped city and the brotherhood formed by those who serve together in the 24-hour shifts.
Since filming wrapped, and the movie was completed, the documentary has been shown locally and across the country including the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Miller has traveled to some of these locations to talk about the movie, and discuss the challenges of providing fire services in Detroit.
"Detroit is unique in the volume of fires we actually have," said Miller, who added that in addition to the large number of calls firefighters are his making less now than they did in 1998 due to pay cuts. "No other city burns like the city of Detroit."
He is also a second generation Detroit firefighter. His father died in 1998, and following his death, firefighters were there to help his family. That experience had an impact on his career choice.
"I made the decision and the rest is history," he said.
And while his first years on the force Detroit seemed to be on an upswing, the past few years have been a challenge.
"I made the choice not to leave. Hindsight is 20/20," he said of the loss of seniority by changing departments. "If I left, I would be starting over."
Also, if he left he would not have been a part of the documentary. While at first it took some time to get to know each other, the firefighters and crews got to know each other better.
"They knew when to back off," said Miller, who learned something also. "It was neat for us, we learned something about film making."
While he hopes the viewers gets a better understanding of the plight of Detroit firefighters, his goal is for a greater appreciation for first responders in their communities.
"Hopefully this will make the general public think. You don’t think about the fire department until you need them," Miller said. "Urban city, or prosperous suburb, you need your fire department.
"There are families involved. There are humans involved," he added.
About the film
The film is directed by Brenna Sanchez and Tom Putnam. The film opens Friday, Dec. 7, at AMC Forum 30 and AMC Livonia 20. A significant portion of any proceeds from the film will go to the Leary Firefighters Foundation to purchase gear for the Detroit firefighters. The foundation was established by Denis Leary, who is also the film's executive producer.
For tickets and showtimes, check here.