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Planes Fire & Rescue: A Visit to Van Nuys Air Tanker & National Fire Prevention Week

Disney is providing me with an all expense paid trip to L.A. to attend the #VeryBadDayEvent and #DisneyInHomeEvent in exchange for my coverage.  No other compensation is given and all opinions in my posts are 100% my own.  Disclosure Policy.


Planes: Fire & Rescue, to be released on DVD/BluRay November 4th 2014, is a sequel that really antes up from the original in many categories.  It’s comedy and drama is one for the books, it’s visual effects are splendid and as Fire Chief Steve Martin (Assistant Fire Chief of the LA County Fire Department) has said “that movie was technically correct.”

Fire Chief Steve Martin



During my trip to LA last week, I was able to visit the Van Nuys Air Tanker, where Disney did much of it’s research for the Planes: Fire & Rescue movie.  At the time, Chief Martin was the battalion chief in charge of air operations in LA County.  He is Assistant Fire Chief but during the fire season, the fire department augments their program with contract air.  A few years ago, he received a call from the “Disney folks”, they were working on a planes movie for 2014, ’15 or ’16 and were wanting to do some investigation and fact gathering for the movie.  He was a bit shocked because those dates were really far out but as Chief Martin says, “I’ve got to give props to the Disney people.  They really do their homework.
I am not sure which is cooler, to be a part of a Disney movie or to fight fires from an airplane and saves lives on the daily?  Well, Chief Martin got to be a part of both and he told us a little about that experience.
So they came out (the Disney people) and they met our folks just like you did today.  They met some of the pilots, the maintenance crew.  They walked around the aircraft’s.  They had them fire it up.  They listened to the sound of it.  They watched it fly.  I think some of them even took a flight in it.  They really, really did their homework.  They went back to the offices, called me a few weeks later, “hey we miss a little something.  Can we come again?”  “Sure, come on out.”  So they had been out here a few times and after that, what they did was they started sending me information, what looked like early scripts.  They would send me a highlighted script and ask “is this the proper word?  Is this what terminology you would use?  Is this what would you say in this case?”  And a lot of times they would scratch something out and I’d say no, no we don’t talk like that.  We help them, I guess that’s what the definition of someone being a technical advisor.



And did Disney’s research pay off?  Well, I will first let the Planes speak for themselves.  Funny because planes can’t speak, unless it is a Planes movie!  Anyways, we were given the chance to tour the aircraft’s and speak with the pilots.  The aircraft that was modeled after Lil Dipper in the Planes movie is actually from the province of Quebec.  They are contracted out and generally come down in September and stay until the “rains come”, which could be from middle of November until February.



This aircraft is actually nicknamed “Super Scoopers” for its ability to fly down and scoop water into the reservoir of the aircraft.  Chief Martin had suggested we search “Super Scoopers” on YouTube and watch some of the videos.  I am SO glad I did because being there and touring the crafts were one thing but to see what these crafts and pilots have the ability to do is SO impressive!
So, do you think Disney technically got it right?  From the looks of it, I would say yes but let’s hear it from the perspective of a professional, Chief Martin:
The one thing everybody has said to me is that yeah, that movie was technically correct.  Anybody in the fire service who knows from the political overtones of it to the vernacular they used during the flying or rescues or hoists, whatever it was they did, they took all those changes that we put down and gave them and did not embellish on it.  Put it exactly like it was.  So again, that made me feel good because the last thing I want to do is have something out there that my boss goes hey, did you tell them to say that?  And you know I wouldn’t be an assistant chief anymore.



Fire Prevention Week
While at Van Nuys, we also discussed Fire Prevention Week and learned some fire safety tips.  Fire Prevention Week was established in the 1920’s by President Woodrow Wilson to commemorate The Great Chicago Fire.  The tragic fire which began on October 8th 1871 and continued into October 9th, killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.  Since that time, across the nation we’ve taken that week to learn about fire prevention.  This years theme is “Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month.
Captain Scott Miller spoke to us a little more about fire prevention.  When asked if he could give us one tip in fire safety, his response was “Have a Plan.
Fire Escape Plan
1.  Sit down with your family and make a step-by-step plan for escaping from your home during a fire.  Draw a diagram of your home.
2.  Plan two ways out of every room, especially the bedrooms.
3.  Make sure everyone can unlock all locks and open all windows and doors quickly.
4.  Ensure that safety bars contain the proper device so that in an emergency, they may be easily unlocked.
5.  If you must escape from a second- story window, be sure you have a safe way to reach the ground.  Make special arrangements for small children and people with disabilities.

Sharon Davis

Tuesday 7th of October 2014

Looks like so much fun. I love that Disney researches the movie. Makes it even better, knowing that is what they would really do in fires.

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