Engine Company 50 is the impoverished fire department battling the fires raging across Detroit. No fire crew in America is so busy, or so under-resourced. Detroit's population has halved, leaving behind 80,000 empty houses. And now arsonists are having a ball, starting over 30 fires a day. With incredible cinematography following the firemen deep into the infernos, a powerful motown soundtrack and a riveting narrative, it's a thrill ride not to be missed.
"It kind of hurts me to see the city getting destroyed like this", says Senior Firefighter, Dennis Hunter. "I feel like I'm in the burning of Rome sometimes." With more fires than any other city in the U.S., and an arson rate among the highest in the world, Detroit is rapidly turning into a charred wasteland. Since 1950, racial tensions and the disappearance of the city's manufacturing sector have emptied the suburbs, leaving behind social problems that manifest themselves in flames. "The bottom line is: everyone that can, seems to be fleeing. I mean, this has been Katrina without the hurricane."
There appears to be little hope for Detroit: a picture of the future for American industrial cities in a post-industrial age. But what little hope there is is held by the close-knit community of E50, who long to see their ravaged neighbourhoods rise from the ashes. "I'm an optimist", says Hunter. "The way I see it, it's got to come back. This city's too great." Optimism, however, won't change their day-to-day reality of leaking engines, worn-out clothing, and equipment repaired using duct-tape and bubblegum. Their ambition must come out of the budget. "When it comes to public safety in Detroit, we're robbing Peter to pay Paul."
Following the crew of one of the busiest firehouses in America under controversial new leadership, Burn brings you the men beneath the oxygen masks, offering a unique insight into the human consequences of working in extremis. "Unless you put your life up as collateral for another life, you don't know what life-saving is about."