The Fire Critic’s Take on First In – BET’s Take on Compton FD

first inFirst in is a brand new show on BET (Black Entertainment Television). It premiered on Wed. Sept. 30th. I have just gotten a chance to sit down and watch episode 1 and 2. Apparently they played two videos that night. Luckily for me BET has added the full videos on their website ( I embedded the videos below). What is additionally great is that they have removed all the commercials and merely added in two 30 second commercials per episode.

First in is based on the Compton Fire Department and is narrated by Tyrese Gibson. As best as I can tell, Compton FD does EMS also, but they have an interesting make-up of firefighters and “ambulance operators”. The ambulance operators work in the station but they are not firefighters. I don’t have a clue who is a Paramedic and who isn’t, they don’t give any information on who is certified in what.

“First In” is a documentary, or maybe even more clearly a docu-drama. These are real firefighters, real calls, real lives, and decent editing!

Episode 1 opens with an EMS Call DOA (gunshot if I remember correctly), an overdose with a combative patient, a car fire, then a plane crash. I am certain that these calls probably did not happen in exact succession nor did they happen all in the same day. I could be wrong though. The main characters detailed below are stationed at Station 3 which is also the Training Center. The City of Compton has 4 fire stations, a population of 100,000 and 75 known active gangs.

Today the Fire Department has 84 sworn employees and five civilian employees. Its resources include four fire stations and nine front-line emergency vehicles comprised of four fire engines, one truck, two paramedic squads, and two basic life support transport ambulances. (

My first impression after watching the first two episodes is that we have a quality show. The camera operators ride in the rigs giving you a great view of all aspects of our jobs. The on scene interviews give introspect on what is going on (for those of us who don’t already know). The firefighters are respectful of the citizens and operate as I would imagine all of us would if we had cameras following us around.

The show is not riddled with house fire after house fire after house fire. The show actually shows EMS calls, vehicle accidents, car fires, a plane into a house, station life, training, and even the recruit process. I believe the show has a great balance of what is going on in FD’s across the States. The editing isn’t over the top, the show does a great job of giving the public a view of what we go through on a day to day basis.

What I didn’t like was how the show brought in some family life but didn’t go into too much depth. I am not saying I want more depth, but if you are going to do it you need to do more. However, there is only so much you can show in 30 minutes.

It seems as though the show actually follows accidents throughout the entire City and not just ones for Station 3. That is fine, but it almost hints at station 3 apparatus being added to calls just so some of the main characters end up on scene for the show. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless it is undue response while leaving other areas uncovered while they accommodate for the show…but that is me being VERY picky.

Think of this show like a Cops version of firefighting. Maybe even Trauma Life in the ER for firefighters…given they show more character of the nurses and doctors, something that Cops shies away from besides in car interviews.The show is not too different than the show “The Bravest” ( I believe that was the title) which chronicled the day to day operations of FD’s.

I give First In a thumbs up and I plan on checking in on the entire 10 episode season. Let me know what you thought in the comments. I tried to find some other reviews of the show, but didn’t have much luck. It seems as though the premiere of “Trauma” wore everyone out.

The main cast of the show is below:

Marcel Melanson – Battalion Chief – a 12 year veteran of the service. The show bills him as one of the youngest BC’s in the Nation. I concur.
Jerome Goodall – Ambulance Driver – Trying to get on as a firefighter.
Shon Halverson
– Firefighter -Billed as the quintessential firefighter.
Danny Salazar
– Firefighter -Apparently he is the rebel.
Marcus Wilson
– Probationary Firefighter – Trying to earn respect.

There are plenty of other firefighters on the show, they just don’t go into detail on them. All in all it seems like a pretty decent crew out there in Compton.

Click (more…) below to watch episode 1 and 2 (I had to do this because the episodes start instantly) Simply pause the episode you don’t want to watch right away.

Episode 1

Episode 2