Old Fire and Forestry Films

Updated Nov 2020

For the freshest news on this topic and more links, see our Nov 2020 post here

The Museum collection of motion picture film includes about 850 reels (and counting) of Department produced or related 16mm films for training or public display. PLUS we recently received over 100 reels of film and film elements (negatives, soundtrack, A/B roll), both 35mm and 16mm) from the film vaults at Technicolor Labs, including the original footage used to create “Countdown to Calamity.”

With content ranging from early Haz Mat, Law Enforcement and EMS training films like “BLEVE” and “Rescue Breathing” to conservation education films from the 70s and kids safety programs like “Keep it Green with Sniff and Snuff” and “I’m no Fool with Fire” starring Jiminy Cricket, to a variety of public documentary-style PR films, such as “Wildlands of California: Showing The Work of The CDF” and “California And Its Natural Resources“, it’s a veritable treasure trove of old memories. Recent efforts at the Museum are working to identify and separate out the films more crucial to specific Department related history and documentation. These will be the first ones we work towards digitizing to preserve and make available for the future.

One of the first tasks we faced in going through our collection is determining which films are already available, and which are unique to our collection. Many of the well-known films in the collection have already been digitized by the State Archives or other organizations and are already available online for viewing and reminiscing. Such as:

We are working with a grant-funded program at the State Library to get many of the other great CDF-produced films and original training films digitized and available. Many of these will be presented in their original scratch-less glory, thanks to the great condition of the film we found stored in the Technicolor Labs film vaults. This digitizing effort has been delayed due to coronavirus closures, but we expect the first films to be available online Fall 2020. completed! First batch results are in. See link above to updated blog post.

Other films in the collection include original pieces shot by Department photographers as either documentation of an event or for future training purposes.

A fire fighter in white dousing the flames

Some are standardized fire or forestry training films produced by either the Department, USFS, NFPA. Most are dated from the 60s, 70s and 80s, before VHS/Beta video became the pre-dominant method for showing film.

If you are interested in hearing more about our collection, OR you’d like to help volunteer get these materials sorted, organized and prioritized, We’d love to hear from you! There is usually someone at the main museum offices in San Bernardino Tue through Sat 10-2, or you can email the Museum Manager, Jerry Glover, at [email protected]

Screenshot from “Handle on a Round Point” a training film about the care and use of the shovel