Monday, September 28, 2015

#FFHI2015 - FireFighter Health Initiative of 2015

I'm sick and I'm sick and tired of being sick. No really, I am actually sick with a bad URI, that's on the verse of bronchitis. But I'm sicker even than that. Though I'm on the mend, I awoke this morning to find two #LODD notices in my mailbox, both for basically "middle-aged" men and both due to preventable health issues. And those two obits come on the heal of a third, that occurred over the weekend, when another brave FF passed, after nearly a week in the hospital following his collapse on the scene of a run. Again, due to preventable health issues. Well, we're tired of reading those #LODD notices and their subsequent obituaries; about the families left behind and hundreds, if not thousands who show up at their funerals. 

Listen, we all know and understand that this is a big, dangerous "game" that we play. It's always the same, us (Humans) versus him (The Red Devil). And because we play this game, we know the Red doesn't always play by the rules, so it is up to us to do so. And we do, day after day, we do. However, we have a good idea as to how this game is played, and thank Heaven above, the winning percentage has gained year after year in recent time. That's right. Fewer of us have lost the game and therefore, fireground fatalities are being reduced most years. Although a great many of us were reluctant to accept all the
"modern" safety codes and requirements issued by the #NFPA, more and more do and thus the lessening of the losses.

But if you ask me, we're missing the boat. We are so gung-ho to get on our apparatus when those tones sound off in the station or on our pagers, that we have lost sight of the most important factor: What happens if we don't take care of ourselves well enough to allow us to even stay on the job? It appears that we're nearly at 60% of the #LODD for 2015 have been health related. And sadly, our own colleagues are the ones to respond to those terrifying calls, at our home, at the firehouse, on the fireground, etc. It's too much....IT'S TOO GODDAM MUCH!! AND WE HAVE TO MAKE A CHANGE!!

With that, we creating a hashtag, #FFHI2015 - The FireFighter Health Initiative 2015. THIS IS WHERE WE WILL DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND!! 

We're asking, we're begging you to join us today. Make this hashtag #FFHI2015 part of your life. If you are a Chief officer reading this, this applies double for you. Why? Because this both applies to you as a firefighter and applies to you as a leader of your department to see to it that the #FFHI2015 is implemented in your department. If your a line officer, you're in the same boat as are the chiefs, you have to be willing to participate yourself and motivate your front-line members to do the same. And if you're an engineer, truckee, nozzle-jockey, or whatever, you owe both to your family and the community that you protect, to protect yourself.

No matter what your role is in firefighting, do you not owe it to your family, your friends, your co-workers to do the best job that you can? Ask yourself this: Is there anything you wouldn't do to? Would you walk into a fully involved buiding without full PPE? If you don't start taking care of yourself and soon, you might just as well! 

Are you afraid? Are you afraid that if you have to undergo a physical, it may disqualify you from active duty? Well, is that it? Tough to think about, isn't it. How would you care for your family, the house, etc.? That is a tough question. But here's one that even tougher...if you don't start taking care of yourself now, who will when you're dead and buried?

Look around you. See all your friends from work. See all your family. Do you think they'll think you any less of a person because you decided it's time to lose a few pounds and work out a bit?

OK, I've been able to vent this horrid feeling in me since this morning. But I will tell you this, we at Dalmatian Productions, Inc. believe in this issue so strongly that it will be worked into the long-term story line of our new TV show, "Cause & Origin(c)"

Now #StaySafe and Let's Make Sure #EveryOneGoesHome

Steve, Rich, Tom & Jesse

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Role, Role, Role Your Career and See Where You Will Go...

Ha! I bet you thought I meant to say, "Row, row, row your boat." right? Fooled you! I didn't. I actually meant it the way I wrote it. Why?

Think of it this way. When we decide to be a firefighter, no matter if we choose firefighting as a career, as a volunteer or as a combination of the two, on-call, we begin a new career for ourselves. If firefighting will be your profession, then you want to make the best of it. If it is to be an avocation, well maybe advancement may not be a concern. Perhaps you want to be the best firefighter you can.

That entire picture and its focus change if you have a desire to advance your career. Advance? Simply put, not being a black helmet for your entire experience in the fire service. Most departments have helmets of other colors to denote rank, often red infers a line officer, white, a chief officer, and other colors for specialty personnel. However, no matter the color of the helmet, each one requires a significant amount of both effort and ability to gain a new piece of the "fire rainbow." 

I only spent eight years in active service, four in the Greensboro NC area in both fire and EMS work, plus another four years in the Syracuse NY area. I didn't run for an officer's rank for two reasons. First was because I was unsure if my full-time job that often cost me 60-80 hours per week, would impede on my ability to the the job often enough and adequately. Second was due to the fact that officers were elected. Just because I had a good time with a guy who was funny, had more years in than me, and was popular with the ladies, didn't necessarily mean that I wanted to go through that door into that flaming hallways with him telling me what to do.

Instead, I watched my officers and chiefs. Plus, my own job required me to develop strong leadership skills. And thankfully, I was able to convince my employers to send me to various seminars where I could learn even more. Whatever I absorbed from the seminars, I brought back with me to assist me in improving my job performance. My employers deserved that!

For example, on one occasion, my employer, (a non-profit organization) sent me to a fund-raising seminar in New York. The first day was amazing with methods, advice, ideas, etc., not for my employer, but for my fire department. The second day was very weak, so I left the meeting and headed over to the nearest FDNY firehouse, where I was invited to lunch and to ride on a couple of calls with the BC in the house.

Upon my return a made a full report to the executive committee of my employer. As expected, they blew it off as too simple or too "pedestrian" for them. Instead, I took it with me and presented it at the next department business meeting. Up until that time, our fundraising efforts were very weak, but several of these ideas caught some good attention. A couple of months later, we began our first ever, direct-mail fundraiser. In three weeks time, we collected over $17,000 in donations. Suddenly, I was a "hero" and popular. Did that qualify me to become elected a lieutenant? I don't think so. In 1983, that was like hitting the state lottery! We did it again the following year and almost doubled the amount and my understanding is that they do it every year.

Since I left active service due to an injury back in 1985, I never left the fire service or let it leave me. I constantly read industry magazines. I'd visit firehouses wherever I lived and wherever I visited. The fire service is as much a part of me as is my religious faith. Moreover, my vocation required me to learn and gain more leadership skills. And through that effort, I learned a lot more about myself.

I learned that when reacting to an unexpected situation, there was no need to "shoot from the hip." Instead, I learned to gather as much information as possible, digest it, and develop a proper, well-thought out response. I learned that being the loudest voice in the room did not make me a leader. I learned that being the largest "presence" (psychologically and/or physically) did not make me a leader. I learned that letting my anger loose before I had considered all the facts, didn't make me a leader.

So, what did I find did make me a leader. Being knowledgeable, calm and able to communicate instructions or directions to all made me a better leader. I learned that asking people to perform a task instead of ordering them to perform the very same task, made me a better leader. Not only that, these traits also made me a better person, a better husband and father. 

More importantly, after I became disabled in 1992 at the tender age of forty, I had to deal with a my life being turned upside down. And it occurred just two months after purchasing our dream home. Now what would I do? The answer was right in front me. My daughters were young and in school. And once I recovered from my surgery, I involved myself in their lives, driving them to school, from elementary through high school. I found part-time jobs that interested me. 

I will not lie to you and say that it was all peaches and cream. It wasn't. I drifted into some very dark places in my head. Here I went from earning an almost six-figure income to existing on a private disability policy and my wife's income from working four different teaching jobs. I wasn't the man I wanted to be. I wasn't the man I thought they wanted me to be. 

Thankfully, I had good friends. Not mere acquaintances, but real, true friends. They helped me through the rough times. And they taught me even more about being a good leader. That was that I didn't have to shoulder my burdens all by myself. I had people who were ready, willing and able to assist me. I also learned that no matter my physical condition on any given day, I should try to improve something about myself every day. For no matter how much we want to or how hard we try, we can never, ever re-gain time we have lost or wasted. It's gone. That's it! 

Now, it's your turn. Do you want to be a leader; a strong, influential, and well-respected leader? If so, know that if you really want to do it, you can and you will. Just follow the best path to get there. Be the leader that you would want to follow. 

And #StaySafe!


Friday, September 18, 2015

Progress....Follow by the Results From Hitting a Brick Wall

We had a very productive week. After attending to my religious observances, one of my partners, Tom, joined me at a meeting with the Greater Philadelphia Office for Film & Television ( We met with the Executive Director Sharon Pinkenson and her Production Coordinator, Erin Jackson Wagner. They were very cordial and welcoming and are looking forward to the production ramping up. They also are very helpful as they coordinate all the meetings with the necessary departments from the city and the various departments we will be working with. They know their stuff and are very, very good at it! As matter of fact, we closed the meeting my asking for some suggestions for the location scouting we were going to do the next day, and after we explained what we were looking for, they both chipped in with numerous suggestions.

The next day, Tom and I headed out bright and early to visit some parts of the city. Philly is a good-sized city so we decided to find the area that would be most appropriate to the three different active fire scenes that will have to be shot. Reviewing my notes, I have nearly 20 specific areas to consider, but there is one that really stood out. The Film Office will also help us in searching the records for the properties to see which ones might be available for use. We are very lucky to be working with such professionals and I'm sure their guidance will be a major asset to our efforts.

Now, we must concentrate on the work that needs to be done to get ready for the launch of our crowdfunding effort to raise the necessary funds for the shoot. The first thing we have to do is create what is referred to as a "pitch reel" or a "sizzle reel." It is a short video in which we explain why we're making this effort to shoot our pilot episode. We have no more than two minutes to convince a viewer to support our efforts financially. However, don't think that that is the only way for you to help. You can also assist us by telling your friends and family to follow us on Twitter (@DalmatProd). Additionally, if you or someone you know is affiliated with a company that works with the fire-rescue service in any manner, let them know about our efforts. We will be looking for corporate sponsorship in return for promotional consideration in the show. 
Those of you who have been reading our blog regularly know that one of our major concerns and causes is firefighter health and wellness. Sadly, just this week, we lost a 50 year old, battalion chief from South Carolina to a cardiac episode.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my neighbor, a 17-year veteran of the fire service and four more with EMS. He was scheduled for a knee replacement and was sent for his pre-op evaluation. During the EKG, the doctor saw an irregularity and told him he had to get his butt over to the office of two "interventional" cardiologists. He was scheduled for a full thalium stress test. The results that showed up were so critical that they stopped the test and had him admitted right away. When all the tests were done, he found out his capacity was at 35%, he had a thickening of atrial wall, had suffered a silent MI and needed a stent immediately. He also found out that he had to put in his disability retirement papers.

Now I don't care who you are. When you are passionate about the job you do and you love to do that job, getting this kind of news is like running into a brick wall. And that is the way it hit him.

I had the chance to chat with him a short while this morning. He's begun the disability paperwork. He's following the doctors' orders, taking his meds and most of all, working hard to lose weight. But he told me that a few weeks ago, he found himself in that "dark place." Some of us know of what he speaks and some of us don't. But we'll just call it a bad depression. Here he was, going great, loving his job at a very busy station, with 17 years under his belt and looking forward to those last three to retire under the Florida state plan. Instead, his entire world collapsed around him. 

The same thing happened to me twenty-three years ago, when I finally had a good job paying me very well and two years into it, I had a backache. Next thing I know, I have two herniated disks, multiple surgeries and am diagnosed with "failed-back syndrome." I was disabled. Once I got past all the surgeries, injections, etc., and I was back home all alone, with my kids in school and my wife already working three jobs, I felt like the biggest loser in the world. True, I had a private disability policy that covered me, however it didn't pay anything near what I had been making before I got hurt. And the worst part was that by now, the doctors concluded that my back was probably damaged when I partially fell through the floor of a burning house during a training program by the State of North Carolina. But it was only a presumption. No way ti prove it, though I did cause me to blow one knee out and that was covered. 

As my neighbor was explaining this to me, I interrupted him for a moment and said, "I know you absolutely hate having to put in your papers, but I'm damned glad you are still here to put them in."

So, what about you? Are you going to make it to retirement?  No one can make any guaranties, but we can do all we can to remain or get ourselves healthy. Please....for your family, for your friends, for yourself, embrace the new Firefighter Health Initiative. 

Thanks for stopping by.....Stay Safe

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Strength That Comes From Remembering....Plus More on the Show!

This evening, my mind is still stuck on, "yesterday.." I just landed in Philadelphia. I'm here for a dual purpose. Our older daughter lives here, where she works for the Philadelphia Zoo. She also works at a synagogue in Bucks County several times a month. Several weeks ago she called with a predicament. The man who normally chants the service (cantor) had been ill and had undergone surgery. In and of itself, that isn't critical. However, they did not think he would be well enough to assist in leading the prayers for the Jewish High Holidays that begin tomorrow evening and would she be willing to lead them.

The predicament? While she can lead prayers on any Sabbath or one of the three major festivals, she did not know the melodies required for the very special holidays. "But," she explained to the Rabbi, "My father has been doing it for over forty years!" After a little negotiating, etc. I agreed and now, not only am I chanting the services, but I am doing with with my daughter! And... even better is that our younger daughter is coming in from NYC as well. We will be blessed as we celebrate together and pray that we are written and inscribed in the Book of Life for a good, healthy and prosperous year in the new Jewish year that begins this weekend, 5776.

So, yesterday was an extremely important day for many families. However, there we not looking at a joyous reunion as we are, for their reunions would only be those of them with the memories, photos, and videos of their loved ones who were lost in the attacks of 9-11. And we, we the links for those families to their loved ones. For every flag hoisted, every step climbed. every salute, we all helped to build a bridge for each of those families; a bridge that linked one generation to the next. To that end, I spent several hours, hitting, "Favorite," and "Retweet" to every tweet posted relating to 9-11. There were hundreds and eventually, I lost count. But they were there, as were we.and as we will be for every year that marks this tragedy, as long as the good Lord gives us the breath to do so! We vow as one, "Never Forget!"

 Now, a little more on the show. The other reason that I am in Philly is to attend our first meeting on Tuesday the good people from the Greater Philadelphia Office for Film and Television. We worked briefly with this office back in 1999-2000, when we were shooting the two original pilots for "America's Heroes: The Men & Women if Fire Rescue." Now, all these years later, the office is instrumental in putting us together with the Fire Commissioner Sawyer of the Philadelphia Fire Department, the Philadelphia Police Department and other city departments that will have to be pulled together to allow us to shoot a great pilot episode.

I wrote a few tweets earlier today, as people have been volunteering their assistance, and expertise, to help us with the show. I promise you, there will be a time in the not too distant future when we will call upon all of you and many, many more to help us. 

As I've mentioned earlier, we will be using a crowdfunding platform to raise funds to allow us to produce this pilot. But that is still several weeks down the road. Right now, the best help you can offer is to start talking us up to your family, friends and coworkers. Tell them about our struggle for over twenty years to bring a show to television, that tells the real stories of the men and women of fire-rescue. Ask these people to log into our Twitter account and look for @DalmatProd.Tell them about this blog at and our website at

Is that it? Nope...not by a long shot. Here comes a very crucial area. We have been very, very lucky over the past few weeks, as we've watched the number of our Twitter followers to rise and rise. Not only that, but in those new followers are some of the best and brightest names in the fire service today; chiefs and officers, lecturers and instructors, and many more. 

Even though we will launch a crowdfunding campaign, we believe that the money needs to come from more than just Mr. & Mrs. John Smith. There are many, many commercial companies who manufacture and sell important products to the fire service. From apparatus to nozzle tips; from steel-toed rubber boots to AFFF. We wish to offer these companies the 
opportunity to become commercial supporters of the pilot, for which they will receive promotional consideration of various types. We do not have the entire program locked down yet, but we will soon. What is important that those of you who work wit these companies or have an excellent purchasing program with them educate them about our show and get them interest in playing an active part in its development.

Yes, there's still a lot of work for us to do. However, we are in the best position we ever have been to make something happen that will shed a new, bright, "shining" light on the brave men and women of the fire-rescue services in the U.S. and Canada.

Again, many thanks for all of the support. It is deeply appreciated.

Steve Greene


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pack it Up, Gang! We're Heading North!!

Finally, after two postponements and fearing another one last night just minutes before we were scheduled to start our company conference call, all was quiet. I waited for a text message, the ring tone, anything that would signal that we would not be able to hold this meeting. 7:28 PM, I dialed into the conference line. "BING," Rich rang in. "BING," Tom rang in. "BING," Jesse rang in. "Hot damn," I said. "We're having this meeting!"

And a good meeting it was. No, that's not correct. It was a great meeting. Here was the agenda (in brief):
1. There were two levels of the project to decide on; do we produce a complete 46 minutes pilot or do we cut down on the work and money, to produce an extended trailer (a trailer is like the "preview" you see on television or in movie theaters. Those are usually 2-3 minutes; we were looking at 6-10 minutes.
2. Based on the answer to #1, how much money will we need to raise to not just to the job, but to to the best possible production we can?
3. Were we going to agree to use crowdfunding to underwrite the project and if so, which one?

I had been thinking about these questions a great deal. It's not like they are unique, they are not. It's like lining up dominoes in a fancy shape then knocking them all down. But if only one domino is out of place by just a fraction of an inch, the knockdown is knocked out! Even though we are equal partners, I take my role as the president very seriously. Listen, we're not a huge, multi-million dollar production company; we are three snot-nosed, belly-crawling  nozzle jockeys and a videographer who chased police and fire scanners. 

So, I've always played the "parent" in the company, watching over what we decide on and do so that my three partners who, unlike me, still work full-time. Me? I've been classified disabled since 1992 and have only worked part-time as my aching back would let me. Not so with my partners. My biggest concern is protecting them from any personal financial strife. I was an argument that they shot holes through in the first fifteen minutes of the meeting. So here are our decisions:

1. We are going ahead and produce the entire first pilot episode of our new show that is scheduled to be shot with the cooperation and participation of the great men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department. Bear in mind that with both Tom's and Jesse's experience, they showed us that for relatively the same time and money to shoot the trailer, the pilot would not take much more, so we decided to go with the pilot. (Here's a lesson in TV Physics - writers and producers want a lot. They usually don't get everything they want. (Even though we are determined to shoot in Philly, all the "t's" have to be crossed and the "i's" have to be dotted.) To help facilitate this, we have a meeting next week with the Greater Philadelphia Office for Film & Television to start the "hose rolling out."

2. We are definitely moving ahead to raise funds through crowdfunding. We believe that, after all the research we have done over the last three week, we have chosen the best crowdfunding platform that's primary work has always been in film and video. I will not be exact, but we have set a significant six-figure sum for our budget. And combining these two facets, every donation will receive a "charm," a gift appropriate to the level of the contribution. Additionally, we will be looking for commercial participation was well. Thus, if you work in the fire-rescue commercial industry, you may want to see what possibilities there might be with your employer. 

In summary, we're taking the production to the next level. However...this is not to say that we are going to drop our efforts in Los Angeles to market the show to networks and studios. That will continue to go forward, full speed ahead.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, so we have no dates as of yet. All of that will come in due time. What's next? YOU! YES, YOU! No, we're not asking you for a penny (wink..wink, yet!). But we do need your help. We need you to start talking up the project. Tell your friends and family about it, your parents, siblings, grandparents and neighbors! 

We have had test groups of people read both the synopsis (summary) and the script, some involved in fire-rescue, most, not. And every single response has been, "Wow! What a story! I couldn't put it down until I read the whole thing!" Share that with them. Get them as excited about the project as you are.

I want to make one point regarding the fundraising that I mentioned in a previous post within the past couple of weeks. In the U.S., there are approximately 1.2 million members of the fire service, career, volunteer and on-call. That doesn't count the fire-rescue members across southern Canada. It also does not account for members of law enforcement and EMS. Now, add in spouses, family and friends.

Now, if every one of those people donates but $1.00 to the effort (I know, "What kind of a crummy gift will they give me for a buck?") we could raise much more than we would ever need. However that is not going to happen. Even with all the wishing in the world.

So, let's just try our best. It's not even time yet to ask for money, but you know what? Enthusiasm is FREE! Pass it along!



Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Process - Swimming (Almost Drowning) in the Bu** Sh** of the Entertainment Business

We know that many of you were awaiting the results of our company meeting Thursday evening regarding the next level of work for our TV show. So were we. The meeting was set for 7:30 PM. All the partners had the phone number for the conference call. My papers with all my research we laid out in front of me (which is no easy task if you saw my desk!). Then....

Well, before I tell you what happened next, let me tell you a little about us, the knuckleheads of DalmatProd:
1. Steve (me) - I've always loved those flashing lights, ever since I was a little kid. I used to shout out, "Beacon, beacon," when we were in the car. And yes, as a little kid, I did dream about being a firefighter - a little bit. Because I really wanted to be a helicopter pilot! If you're as old as me (and that's old) you may remember a TV show called, "Whirlybirds." Two guys flying Bell 47-G's and a 47-H. 

Though I grew out of that, I still liked anything to do with first aid/helping people/fire-rescue. But in our area of suburban Boston (due west from the city), there were no volunteer or on-call departments. I used to visit my home department (Framingham) frequently, at all 5, then 6 of their stations. And, Jewish very few Conservative Jewish homes went about preparing their sons for the fire service.

However, I kept my interest up and enrolled in every Red Cross course I could, starting with Junior First Aid and working my way to Rescue Breathing and Water Safety Instructor. At the same time, I was pretty focused on becoming a rabbi as my older brother did, however we each did it for our own reasons. When that didn't pan out, I went into Jewish education (and am still there even today) and that was pivotal, because my first job as the educational director of a synagogue was in Greensboro NC (Guilford County) and I joined the combo department around the corner from where we lived. The rest is history. Oh, I should also mention that I was also an avid electronics hobbyist, which led me into audio/video.

2. Rich - Currently, Rich is the chief pilot for the sheriff's office of a north-central Florida County and has been one of my best friends since the night we met and were voted in to that combo department in NC. As a young teen, Rich was a member of Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad and had a lot of interest in both fire-rescue and law enforcement. He wound up in Greensboro when he came to attend Guilford College, a Friends School. 

It didn't take him long at all to discover the station just down the street from where he lived. And sure enough, about six weeks later he was sitting in the first row of the business meeting where our membership was to be voted on. Then, just as the meeting was starting, I walked in. However, coming directly from a service at the synagogue, I was in a suit and the chair next to him was the only empty one in the room. I tried to enter quietly, but when you're wearing a suit and everyone else is in shorts and t-shirts, you tend to get noticed. I sat down next to him and he nearly passed out. "Were we supposed to dress up for this meeting? Oh shit! I'm sunk!!"
"No, no," I tried calming him down. I explained that I was coming from my job at the synagogue. "Synagogue?" he asked. "Are you Jewish, too?"
"Too?" I queried. "Meaning you are as well."
"Shit, yeah! I am!" Sticking out his hand, "I'm Rich." 
And that was that. He eventually dis-enrolled from the college and devoted as much time to the department as he could, until he finally was hired as the day man (24/48) at out second station. You'll be able to read all about this in my forthcoming book, "What are Two Guys Like You....?" As it turned out, we were the first two Jewish people that about 98% of the department had ever met!
Rich stayed with the department for three years, when he was accepted to the Metro PD in Washington, DC, his hometown. But we never lost touch and in the early 90's he moved to Palm Beach County to work for a local PD, then the S.O. The entire concept of Dalmatian Productions (which had a few other names, like Hook&Ladder Productions, TillerTruck Productions, etc.) was hatched by the two of us on the way back from one of my frequent doctor visits in Palm Beach County.

3. Tom - Tom was the first partner to come along totally by accident. We thought we were all set with a videographer. But at the last minute, he pulled out because he was hired by a local news station to shoot for them. In the meantime, we had been running announcement in "Firehouse" Magazine about our first show, a very real, ride-along, similar to, "COPS," only with fire-rescue. So one day, Tom called up to get more info about us, because he was a firefighter and PIO of  a volunteer department in Delaware. He wanted to join us. We thanked him, but told him we had someone to do it already. So, when our first guy fell through,we called Tom and learned more about him.

Tom had been involved with his department for many years .Additionally, he had his own video production business and studio. Then to sweeten the pitch, he also had been working TV at a couple of the Philadelphia channels. That's all it took and we brought Tom on board.

4. Jesse - We didn't know Jesse from a hole in the wall until Rich and I attended a NATPE (National Association of Television Production Executives) in New Orleans, in attempt to sell our first show, "America's Heroes: The Men & Women of Fire-Rescue." Rich and I knew we had to run our pilot, 30-minute episode that people could see walking by our booth. But to rent a 27-inch TV at the convention for four days was almost $600.00! A little "rich" (pardon the pun" for us. So, we did what any other entrepreneurial, red-blooded Americans would do: we drove over to Sears and bought one there, with the intention of returning it when the convention was over. 

During the first day, Jesse came walking by and asked the usual questions. Well, we hit it off right there and the three of us hung around for the rest of the convention. Now, it's important to note that when we came the day before to set-up, we were some of the first people in the exhibit hall. Which was good....up to a point. What it meant was that our cartons, boxes, etc. were some of the first put into the safe storage area. Hooray!! Until we found out that we'd be some of the last to come out. Holy shit! We had a flight out the next morning at 7:00 AM, and we had to get the TV back to Sears so it wouldn't be charged against my credit card. 

Jesse showed up as we realized our predicament. He had his car out of the lot already. He suggested that he and Rich grab the TV and drive over to the Sears (about 45 minutes away) and I would stay and pack up the easy stuff when the materials showed.  So, it was almost two hours before I saw them again. But Rich did have the "Returned Item" receipt! Saved by Jesse! To say thank you, we took Jesse out for a nice steak dinner and learned what he was doing.

He had been connected with law enforcement in the southern California area. One of those experiences brought him into video work with that organization and others. He also realized that there was money to be made being a "stringer," a freelance video guy who listens to the scanners, shoots the action and sells it to local stations or even national networks. But he wanted more. He had a lot of contacts in law enforcement and was able to do a lot of work with them and started editing his own reality shows. And with his background, he also was starting to be hired as a consultant on weapons for various TV shows, e.g. "The Shield," "24," "Grey's Anatomy," and many, many more. And as a great friend, it was Jesse who took all of our treatments for shows to every producer and director he met in his TV and movie work. Every chance he had, he stuck one under their nose and said, "If you like police shows, how about a great show about firefighters?" Now, the rest is history.

Oh yeah, we're back to about 48 hours ago. We're all set up for the big conference call. 7:12 PM EDT, Rich called me to advise that he had just been called out on a mission to find a lost wanderer in the woods. However, he suggested I not cancel the meeting as he is often cancelled on his drive to the airport from his home. About ten minutes later, he called as he was revving up the helo!  That was it! We had all agreed that this meeting is so important, the four of us must be able to discuss it together.Thus, no meeting this past Thursday. So, what the hell is so important that we have to be all together?

We are at the tipping point to get this show on the air. Yes, it is "floating" around Hollywood and has had some nice interest. However, because we are not big-name Hollywood writers or producers, it's often hard to prove to people who don't know a lot about what we (All of you reading this blog) do, that our show would be successful and have the support of viewers. Before a network will pick up a show, they need to know that the show, and by that, it's advertisers, will have the top audience they look for: men and women, ages 18-39, upper lower-class to middle-to-upper middle class. If advertisers think that their buyers won't watch a show, they will not purchase commercial time. And without advertising, there's no money coming in for anyone!

Thus, this meeting, now scheduled for Monday evening, will cover the following points:
1. Can we raise enough money to be able to shoot either an elongated trailer (a trailer is like the preview of a show or movie you see on TV or in the theater i.e. "Coming Soon!!!!!) or should we try to raise enough funds to shoot the entire pilot episode.
2. If we decide to raise funds, how will we do it. Will we approach big-name companies in the fire-rescue field and ask them to buy in, in exchange for some form of free advertising? Or would we be better off by using Crowd Funding (e.g. GoFundMe, KickStarter, IndieGoGo, etc.) and if we do, which one should we use.
3. [SPOILER ALERT] If we go with Crowd Funding, who is the audience we want to attract? (To quote dear Homer Simpson, "DOH!) That answer we have. We would need to reach you! You the people reading this blog. You the people who follow us on Twitter at @DalmatProd, you who visit our website at and every fire-rescue, law enforcement and EMS person, their family, their cousins, etc. to donate. Do you know that there are nearly one million firefighters in the United States? Add to them all those in Canada. Now add their spouses, their friends, etc. Now, with all those people, if each person donates just ONE DOLLAR - THAT'S RIGHT, $1.00, we actually could afford to shoot the entire pilot, if we so decide.
4. Do we shoot an 6-12 minute trailer or do we shoot the entire pilot?
And even if and when we decide those very important four questions, we then ask, how do we market that trailer to the networks? Who will represent us? Who is willing to represent four guys who have never produced any network shows in their lives, but are putting everything they have and believe in, to tell a great story about the fire-rescue service that has never been the focus of any TV show since television was invented! And will our supporters from this field be willing to call and email networks and ask them to pick up the show?

Well gang, that's about it. This is why this meeting is so important. And my friends, this is why all of you are so important to us. Just this week, about two dozen of you put out our word on Twitter and we jumped from about 475 followers (that took about six months to pursuade) to 526 follows, as I write this post! Are YOU willing to help bring this show to TV.

As always,I promise to keep you apprised of any and all developments for, in your own way, you are our partners, as well. Without the support and loyalty you have shown us over the past few months, we cannot succeed. 

As they say, "Welcome to the Family!"

Thanks - Now let's make sure Every One Goes Home and please, Stay Safe!



Friday, September 4, 2015

Who are They? Really? And Who are We? Really!!

The other day I was talking with a close friend who is going through some difficult times. During this chat, we both agreed that as we travel the roads of life, we meet many people. And we often catch ourselves calling them "friends." It's a form of speech that has become very commonplace in our society.

The truth is though, (and we both agreed on this point) that the vast majority of the people we meet on life's highways are actually acquaintances, not friends.
How would you define a friend? Is a friend the person you had coffee with after you bumped into each other at the supermarket? Is a friend the one you call when you really need help, who replies, "Not today, Bill. But ask me another time and I'll be there?"
On these highways, many of these people identify themselves as your friend. And in the "ME" environment of today, some are so starved for attention or companionship that we just accept their self-label of "friend."

However, my friend and I agreed that we don't know who really are our friends, unless there comes a time when we are in need. And when we do call upon them for help or support, the faux-friends will be there as long as you're not asking them to do something that other "friends," may not approve of, even if you really need them.

Thus, we posit that these people are merely acquaintances. When we are in need, whether it's someone to talk with, money problems, family illness, and other severe troubles of the day, your friends are there with you, before you even call them. They are there to comfort you, to support you, to be a strong shoulder for you and, to protect you; not necessarily physically, but emotionally, to act as a shield like a super-hero may carry, so bad words that come your way are deflected.
We may be too old to wear super-hero PJ's to bed anymore, but most of us know who are real friends are. Just like the "Bat Signal," we know that our friends will always be there to help us and support us.

However, we in fire-rescue services have an advantage. And that is that whether you're a career member, a volunteer or an on-call, we are blessed, for unlike the majority of people with a family, a few friends and many acquaintances, we gain a second family. A family we live with, eat with, joke with, and yes, even argue with, from time to time.  

And just like our "blood" family, the fire family are probably the strongest, most loyal friends anyone might ever desire. They are usually the first ones to know when we have lit up our "Bat Signal," calling for help. They will be first on the phone, first on your doorstep, first at your church, synagogue, mosque or other place of your worship. And they do so, without even being asked.

Why? In my humble opinion, it is due to the fact that we do not choose to be fire-rescue members. We are chosen. Whether it's biology, astrology, magic, genes, etc. something drives us to follow this path in our lives. Sometimes, we may try to pull in another direction, yet we almost always wind up coming back.

Now, think of the people that you can unquestioningly label as a friend. Examine their personality. Look at their vocation. You will often see that they too, are dedicated to something very important. And the acquaintances? They probably flit around from one opportunity to the next. Now do you see the difference?

Have a enjoyable and safe holiday weekend.