This week we’ve been filming with Wiltshire Fire Brigade looking at the valuable, but often unseen work, done by the fire safety specialists.

A team within the fire brigade works day in day out, trying to prevent fires and accidents. They go into schools, into colleges, into homes and can  go into businesses, organisations to talk about safety on the road, in the home, on boats…the list goes on. The skills and the practical hints and tips they can give are worth listening to…How many of us think about what these officers, both male and female, can offer in terms of training? Debbie, who goes into primary schools, to speak to children about fire safety was awesome. Anyone who can not only hold, but fascinate,  a class of seven-year-olds for more than an hour deserves huge respect.

Today I learned what to do if my clothes caught on fire, what to do to check if a fire is behind a door, how to get out of a house safely in a fire. I’d already had a fire officer look around a house and offer advice about smoke alarms, safe practice in the kitchen, planning escape routes, where keys should be left….I could go on. But now I know what to do with my body if that very rare house fire occurs.

As part of my research, I’ve also found out that Wiltshire Fire Brigade works closely with the British Red Cross which provides 24-hour support for people caught up in the trauma of a house fire or flood. The fire officers will call out the BRC team and they will attend night or day – and all of them are volunteers. I’m going to blog more on this later so watch this space.

Our grand vision for the fire safety fiming, was to do a shot of the team and all of the vehicles at their disposal. This meant that we had five fire engines, a four-wheel drive car, a little white van, a British Cross support vehicle, a BMW complete with blue lights and a boat. We allowed two hours to get this one shot right and to arrange the vehicles in an arc. It was great fun.

 

Vehicles getting into position with my thumb at top of frame!...

But here are a few tips I’d like to share with you when doing a ‘key shot’ for any filming:

Whatever time you’ve planned to arrange the shot – double it.

A good cameraman will look for the most inaccessible shot and go for it – be prepared to follow.

Don’t go to the top of a very high tower on a cold, foggy March morning without gloves or without having visited the loo.

Take into account the last time you climbed a very high tower – in your 20s it’s easy, in your 40s, it’s a lot scarier.

Taking lots of heavy kit up a very high tower is not easy – bring along an extra pair of hands.

Swindon's magic roundabout from top of high tower!

Coming down wobbly ladders is a lot more terrifying than going up – especially when your hands are so cold, you are not sure if you’ve got fingers any more.

From these few tips, you can probably guess that we got some of these things completely right and others, while not quite so right. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the shots we captured are wonderful. However, my own personal shots from the iPhone were a bit ropey – probably due to numb fingers, or that’s my excuse.

All in all, today showed the joy of a portfolio career, you just never know what you are going to do, who you are going to meet or what the camera is going to show you…