BURN: The Detroit Firefighter Documentary



 BURN is a documentary about Detroit, told through the eyes of its firefighters, who risk their lives to save a city that many have written off as dead. Detroit firefighters have a front-line look at issues many American cities are just beginning to face. Along with the foreclosure boom, arson fires in Detroit have skyrocketed. The reasons vary: Homeowners desperate to get out from under mortgages, gangs and drug dealers out for revenge, bored teens failed by the education system. The end result is a city struggling to cope with one of the highest per capita arson and fire rates in the world.

Every shift, Detroit firefighters face injury, disablement, illness, death. But still they come back, day after day, resolved they can make a difference. And they do it with camaraderie and a remarkable sense of humor.  We have embedded with firefighters of the DFD and are following the Detroit story through their eyes. Our film explores human struggles, hope and personal courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

Until now, no one has properly explored these issues, and these heroes, with the depth and detail they deserve.

BURN is produced and directed by Tom Putnam & Brenna Sanchez. Executive Producers Denis Leary & Jim Serpico (“Rescue Me,” Apostle Films)

What We’re Doing

We’re raising money to finish the documentary! The film is 95% shot, and 70% funded. We need to meet (or beat) our fundraising goal to cover post-production costs to finish the film in time for a festival premiere in Spring 2012. After that, the film stands to follow the path of our previous documentaries: Theatrical release, DVD and broadcast.

Why We’re Doing It

We started the project in December 2008, after the death of Detroit firefighter Walter Harris, who perished fighting an arson fire in an abandoned house. Everyone can agree — public safety is a national and local priority. But fire, police and EMS across the nation are struggling with intense budget cuts to gear and manpower. Although our film is about the Detroit Fire Department, the DFD faces issues that can now be found in nearly every major American city. Our goal is to share their story so that everyone can appreciate and value their first responders, no matter where they live.


  • What’s Denis Leary’s role in all this?
  • If the film is funded, when will it be released?
  • What’s the best way to support BURN?
  • When will I get my stuff?
  • How much is shipping?
  • How will you know where to send my incentives, or what t-shirt size to send?
  • Can I make a donation as a gift?
  • Can I increase my pledge once it’s been made?
  • What happens if the money isn’t raised in time?
  • Can we exceed the goal?
  • How do I contact you?
  • If I donate, when can I redeem the incentive?
  • Where does the money go?
  • Who’s involved in the making of this film?
  • What else can I do to help?
  • Can I pay with a check? Send cash by mail?
ASK A QUESTIONHave a question? If the info above doesn’t help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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