New Documentary Chronicles "Brotherhood" Of New York's Bravest
04/28/2004 08:26 PM
Thomas Burke has been a firefighter for 25 years.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
He's just one of the firefighters featured in "Brotherhood," an up-close and very personal look at New York's Bravest as the department rebuilds after 9/11.
His brothers call him "Norton" and he's a member of hazmat company, Squad 252.
"There's nothing like being with the men, the firemen — that's what it's all about," said Burke.
"I don't think people really understand the scope of our job," said Bob Chiusano of Squad 252. "A lot of other films are focused on just seeing fire action, whereas this actually shows you how we live together and interact together."
Along with Squad 252, the film focuses on Rescue 1 in Manhattan and Rescue 4 in Queens. Shot documentary-style, crews essentially moved into each firehouse for six months.
After spending months cleaning up the Trade Center site, firefighters returned to their quarters and tried to get back to normal — something hard to do while grieving their fallen brothers.
"It's different to respond to those situations now without kinda your backup," said Greg Pastos. "Not like some of the new guys. They're all fine, but it just wasn't your original friends. They all have to be retrained. It's just different. The whole atmosphere is different."
The cameras also caught some quiet moments, some lighter moments, and even some insightful ones.
Cameras were there as the Squad responded to structural fires, ate Thanksgiving dinner, held a memorial for their fallen brothers, and dealt with the anthrax threat.
"You go from being a fireman in your bunker gear, next thing you know you're in a Level-A suit in the lobby of the ABC building possibly metering anthrax."
In the midst of filming, the squad also dealt with the possibility that budget cuts would force them to relocate to Engine 44 in Manhattan. After strong community protest, the squad was eventually allowed to stay, much to their relief.
"We have families of our fallen members," said Chiusano. "You know they're upset because the last time their sons and husbands were alive pretty much was responding from this firehouse."
Squad 252 started back in 1998 and the unit lost six original members in the attacks. Firefighters we spoke with say rebuilding is as much about looking back as it is about moving forward.
"It's not that we're going to forget anybody, but it's nice to move on that you don't want to live with that pain your whole, everyday," said Pastos. "You wanna have good times again and that took a while for that to happen."
But it has happened, and Brotherhood is proof of that.
— Amanda Farinacci