If you thought Channel 5 was the home of Yorkshire-based programmes, you were mistaken.
The broadcaster may have the likes of Our Yorkshire Farm, The Yorkshire Vet and Casualty 24/7: Every Second Counts (which is set at Barnsley Hospital), but now the BBC is getting in on the act, having commissioned a new four-part documentary series set in God’s own county.
The title Yorkshire Firefighters isn’t exactly enigmatic – it tells you precisely what the programme is about. But in case you’re in any doubt, it follows the fortunes of staff at the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and has been made by Leeds-based production company Wise Owl Film. Its aim is to reveal the challenges faced by those on the frontline as they battle to keep the public safe.
“Being a firefighter is now so much more than fighting fires,” says Aisling O’Connor, the BBC’s Head of TV Commissioning for England. “We’re going to use the latest technology to show viewers exactly what it takes to be a firefighter today. The programme will put audiences right at the centre of emergencies and the work of the fire service with special helmet-mounted ‘firecams’, footage taken from fire engines and the control room. I can’t wait to see what unfolds.”
The ‘firecams’ will allow viewers to follow a case from the moment an emergency call is received in the control room to the blaze itself, and often, what they capture isn’t for the faint-hearted. More than 900 firefighters work for the service across both urban landscapes in such cities as Bradford and Leeds and the county’s famously picturesque countryside. Of course, they’re not always tackling blazes – they can be called out to deal with a wide range of potentially life-threatening situations.
The series will also shine a spotlight on other specialist services working alongside the team, including Urban Search and Rescue dog Jessie and a water rescue unit. There’s certainly lots of drama along the way, as well as plenty of warmth and humour.
“We are really excited to be part of this project and we hope it will give us a great opportunity to show what life is like behind the scenes of a modern day fire and rescue service, and to explode some dated myths,” adds Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton.
The programme was filmed in the run-up to bonfire night in 2020, the busiest time of any fire service’s year, although as the first episode reveals, the staff had hoped that lockdown would result in a quiet evening. Unfortunately, that doesn’t turn out to be the case when we see them called to a post box fire. Later, a report comes through from a house in Leeds – a firework has been pushed through a letterbox, trapping a terrified mother and her young daughter inside.
Meanwhile, in Bradford, 100 firefighters battle to contain a massive blaze – 600,000 tyres have caught fire, sending a plume of potentially toxic fumes across the city centre. But there could be worse to come…
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