The film opens with firefighter Jack Morrison
(Joaquin Phoenix) lying battered and stunned after falling
four floors in a collapsing, flame-filled warehouse. Morrison’s
former captain and mentor, Fire Chief Mike Kennedy (John Travolta),
works with other firefighters to plan a rescue attempt as debris
and flames surround him. The fallen firefighter thinks about
his career leading up to the accident.
Morrison flashes back to his first day in the Baltimore, Md.,
firehouse when he is initiated through a series of practical
jokes and childish pranks. The film revolves around the relationships
formed as the firefighters become a tight-knit family. The group
celebrates in the local bar after jobs done well, and it finds
ways to stick together when members of the company face injury
While shopping for firehouse groceries as a rookie, Morrison
meets Linda (Jacinda Barrett), and the couple falls in love.
The film follows the newlyweds as they cope with the dangers
of his job while raising two children along the way. Linda is
constantly worried that she will be widowed, and her fear, coupled
with the near death of fellow firefighter Tommy Drake (Morris
Chestnut) whose face is severely burned by steam from an electrical
plant fire, causes Morrison to ponder moving to a desk job. But
his passion for fighting fires keeps him on the front lines.
In order to prepare for the movie, the cast went through fire
camp to expose themselves to the high heat and suffocating smoke
faced by real firefighters. Phoenix took the training a step
further and joined and graduated with a Baltimore Fire Academy
class. He stayed on with a truck company for a month and responded
to real fires, emergencies, and rescues.
Director Jay Russell wanted to create fires for the film that
would seem as real as possible, so 99 percent of the fires seen
in the movie are real. Russell felt that digital fires would
undermine the audience’s experience of what the firefighters
were going through as they crawl through burning hallways and
navigate smoke-choked buildings.
This film is rated PG-13 for intense fire and rescue situations
as well as adult language