Camera Crew Safety Tips | Capturing Wildfire Footage | Tragedy strikes once again as voracious wildfires inundate California. Northern and Southern California fire department officials are urging a mandatory evacuation for residents in the affected areas. As a camera operator covering this breaking news, it is imperative to abide by the appropriate safety precautions when shooting dangerous footage. Here are a few tips and tricks to conquering the wildfires shoot.
Depending on the state and/or the severity of the fire, there are restrictions and laws to crews entering the zone of a wildfire. Additionally, it is important to learn the nature of wildfire and how it can behave in certain weather conditions, regions of the state, and so forth. There are online courses available to get certified in wildfire behavior. Consequently, researching is required to mastering this shoot.
If you are not able to access certain areas, you will not get the footage you need for the story. And if you are not familiar with wildfire and go in head first, you may put yourself in a dangerous situation. Make sure you use your resources and investigate before you arrive at the shoot.
As a natural disaster, wildfires are unpredictable and volatile. It’s important to protect yourself and your crew from any possibility of injury or harm. After you research the areas and laws, use the proper equipment to protect yourself.
This includes safety goggles, Nomex attire, firefighting boots, leather gloves, and a hard hat or a protective hood. This level of preparation may seem unusual and overwhelming, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Along with safety equipment, you should set up a fire shelter. The Washington State Department of Natural Disaster actually offers a training program tailored to videographers and photographers, providing them with tools and resources for protecting themselves and setting up fire safety shelters.
Although the cost of safety equipment may be pricey, shooting a natural disaster can be very rewarding if done successfully.
Map it Out
Mapping out the region in which you and your crew are expected to shoot will reduce anxiety about entering and leaving the scene. Know the affected areas, and plan out multiple exit routes. Position your vehicle towards the exit route away from the fire engines and other wildland fire crew members, just in case you and your team need to evacuate the scene immediately.
Also, coordinate with firefighters. You do not want to step on their toes and be in the way as they are fire fighting.
Your shoot does not have to be a natural disaster; employ these tips and tricks to master capturing a wildfire.