Fire District #1 in the Movies← Back

Friday night at the movies for a few local firemen was a little different this week and front row seats took on a whole different meaning.

A St. Tammany Fire District No. 1 Fire Suppression Crew reported a zero minute response time to a car fire and explosion Friday night in the parking lot of Mudbug’s, a local night club on highway 433 in Slidell. It was not just luck that placed the four firefighters on the scene of the blaze; they knew when and where it would happen, because it was in the script. When Director William Friedkin of the movie “Killer Joe” said “ACTION”, there was a big fire and explosion, and when Friedkin said “CUT”, firemen already in place on the set did what firemen do…they quickly extinguished the flames.

The movie crew transformed Mudbug’s to “Billy’s Mo BBQ” and through Friedkin’s direction with a little movie magic this local night club became the movie set for a scene in “Killer Joe”.  And St. Tammany Fire Dist. No. 1 had a role, well sort of.

Recently Fire Prevention Chief Neil Ricca was contacted by “Killer Joe” Location Manager John Mmahat with a request he does not see very often.  The request was to set fire to a car…and then blow it up!  To make matters worse, the planned location for the blazing explosion was about 300 feet from a gas station and two fireworks stands and even closer to a busy highway.

After about a week of preparation which included written details of the plans for the fire and explosion, code research and interviews with the licensed pyrotechnics expert hired by the production company Chief Ricca was ready to develop a safety plan and issue a permit.

Assisted by Fire Prevention Officers Capt. Mike Thiel and Capt. Van Joffrion, Chief Ricca was able to review the type and quantity of explosives and accelerants and to develop appropriate work and safety zones for the crew and spectators. Also planned by the Fire Prevention Officers was the necessary response by fire suppression crews should something not go as planned.

In accordance with the fire districts permit requirements and to prevent interference with any emergency operations the production company hired off duty fire department personnel and paid for the use of one of the department’s reserve fire trucks.

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Captain Van Joffrion

PIO / Fire Prevention Officer

Cell        (985) 201-5566

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