Is Under Fire Based on a True Story?

Originally titled ‘Onder Vuur,’ Netflix’s Dutch-language action series ‘Onder Vuur’ revolves around the lives of firefighters and paramedics of the East Bank fire station, located in the city of Ostend, Belgium. The series follows the firefighters through the various emergency calls they respond to. Directed by Joost Wynant, the series succeeds in exploring the conflicts the firefighters face in the field of action and their resilience to save people’s lives. Enthralled by the firefighters’ displays of courage, we have dived into the origin of the show to find out whether it is based on a true story. Here are our findings.

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Is Under Fire a True Story

No, ‘Under Fire’ is not based on a true story. The fictional show is conceived by a production house named Geronimo, who had previously produced a documentary series named ‘Helden van Hier: Door het Vuur.’ The docuseries revolves around the Ghent fire brigade, following the emergency calls they attend. After working on the docuseries on firefighters, Jasper Moeyaert, Emanuel Vanderjeugd and Emanuel Vanderjeugd decided to create a fictional series about them, with the greatest authenticity. After spending years watching the plight of real-life firefighters for the documentary, Jasper and Emanuel used the same experience to write ‘Under Fire’ as well.

Although the storylines that form the show are fictional, the creative heads behind the show wanted absolute authenticity in portraying the firefighters’ rescue missions and interventions. The same reason they sought the help from a real fire brigade. A camp was set up for firefighters to train the actors with the tools so that they could do “interventions” themselves as characters. The training has evidently helped to make ‘Under Fire’ an authentic representation of fire stations in Belgium, making the viewers wonder whether the characters are real as well.

Jasper and Emanuel describe the show as “‘Alfa Papa Tango’ but thirty years later.” ‘Alfa Papa Tango’ is a Belgian series that revolves around a fire department of a Belgium town and it is evident that the classic series had inspired the writers to conceive ‘Under Fire.’ In addition, the show explores the nuances of firefighting as a profession, which must be highly relatable to real firefighters. Lieutenant Dominique Meersman, her firefighters, put their lives on line to save lives despite all the dangers they face. They are just like real firefighters from around the globe. The series, although fictional, shows the challenges they face inside each building that is on fire. It also highlights the details that the public doesn’t get to see or acknowledge.

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The show also highlights the emotional impact of every firefighter who attends a call. Gio Kaplan’s failure to come to terms with the death of a civilian on the field, the impact of another civilian’s death on Orlando Foncke, and the first mistake Dominique makes as the lieutenant of East Bank station display the plight of firefighters exceptionally. Tom Lateur’s attempts to recover from his traumas with therapy show another dimension of the profession. ‘Under Fire’ succeeds in discussing the importance of mental health with regard to firefighting, which is essential for firefighters in reality as well.

‘Under Fire’ is also a critique of the abominable bureaucratic practices and decisions that affects and threatens the lives of firefighters, who walks into death traps whenever they are asked to. The show manages to give a realistic look at firefighters and fire stations through these storylines. However, it is fiction.

Read More Where is Netflix’s Under Fire Filmed?

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