I only caught a few of the first season episodes, but the FX series Rescue Me got good reviews and the few shows I saw were interesting. The cast and story lines both seemed strong, and many aspects of the plotlines were believable - beyond just plausible (OK, maybe not the drinking on the job and talking with dead people parts). The first season on DVD came out on 7 June, and I got it as a Fathers Day gift yesterday. Cool.
Denis Leary is the central character, both in and in support of the show. He's no stranger to either the job of firefighting or the social framework that firefighters, their families and their departments form in many towns. In December 1999, 6 firefighters lost their lives in a Worcester, Massachussets warehouse fire. Leary lost his cousin (Jerry Lucey) and a high school pal (Lt. Tommy Spencer), and formed The Leary Firefighters Foundation in 2000 in response. Since then, through a couple of regular fundraisers (I'll write on those another time), the Foundation has collected and funded Fire Department needs in New England and for FDNY to the tune of several million dollars. Here's the Foundation's mission statement:
The mission of The Leary Firefighters Foundation is to provide funding and resources for fire departments to obtain the highest level of equipment, technology, and training, as well as to provide resources to the families of firefighters who have perished or been injured in the line of duty.
This kind of "putting your money where your mouth is" support for firefighters is right on - more celebrities should do it. Leary is very active in Fire Rescue circles, and is turning two of his personal assets - an affinity for firefighters and his name recognition - into a plus for the community. And I like what I see as a "bookends strategy" in their focus - to paraphrase, I think they're about helping to fund investment in protective and lifesaving technologies at one end of the spectrum, but also provide resources and comfort to those families and departments affected by Line of Duty Death (LODD) at the other end.
LODD is something folks outside of Public Safety circles don't think a whole lot about. Unless it happens to your friend or neighbor or local department. Aside from the military and other Public Safety organizations like Law Enforcement, I can't think of too many lines of business where folks go to work every day with the possibility of losing their own life while trying to save another's. Selfless work, to be sure; and unfortunately, every year over 100 of those firefighters don't go home at the end of the shift, as you can see at the US Fire Administration firefighter fatalities page or at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation site.
If you're interested in the Leary Firefighters Foundation, check out their website, or read their 2003 Annual Report. I guess its not all that uncommon for an actor's on-screen performance to intersect with his or her personal mission, but appreciate that Leary's doing it, and in a way that can really help a bunch of people. If you're interested in the show, the second season premieres tomorrow (21 June) on FX.
Rock on, Denis Leary.