Is Under Fire Based on a True Story?

Originally titled ‘Onder Vuur,’ Netflix’s Dutch-language action series ‘Onder Vuur’ revolves around the lives of firefighters and paramedics of the East Bank fire station, located in the city of Ostend, Belgium. The series progresses through the emergency calls the station attends and the impact of the same on the firefighters. Directed by Joost Wynant, the series succeeds in exploring the conflicts the firefighters face in the field of action and their resilience to save people’s lives. Enthralled by the firefighters’ displays of courage, we have dived into the origin of the show to find out whether it is based on a true story. Here are our findings!

Is Under Fire a True Story?

No, ‘Under Fire’ is not based on a true story. The fictional show is conceived by a production house named Geronimo, who had previously produced a documentary series named ‘Helden van Hier: Door het Vuur.’ The docuseries revolves around the Ghent fire brigade, following the emergency calls they attend. After working on the docuseries about firefighters, writers Jasper Moeyaert and Emanuel Vanderjeugd wanted to make a fictional series about the same, with utmost authenticity. After spending years watching the plight of real-life firefighters for the documentary, Jasper and Emanuel used the same experience to write ‘Under Fire’ as well.

Although the storylines that form the show are fictional, the creative heads behind the show wanted absolute authenticity in portraying the firefighters’ rescue missions and interventions. For the same, they sought the help of a real fire brigade. A camp was set up for firefighters to train the actors with the tools so that they could do “interventions” themselves as characters. The training has evidently helped to make ‘Under Fire’ an authentic representation of fire stations in Belgium, making the viewers wonder whether the characters are real as well.

Jasper and Emanuel describe the show as “‘Alfa Papa Tango’ but thirty years later.” ‘Alfa Papa Tango’ is a Belgian series that revolves around a fire department of a Belgium town and it is evident that the classic series had inspired the writers to conceive ‘Under Fire.’ In addition, the show explores the nuances of firefighting as a profession, which must be highly relatable to real firefighters. Lieutenant Dominique Meersman and her firefighters put their lives on the line to save lives despite the dangers they face, just like real firefighters all over the world. Although fictional, the series depicts the challenges they face inside each burning building, portraying the details the public never gets to see and acknowledge.

Furthermore, the show also portrays how the emotional impact of every call the firefighters attend. Gio Kaplan’s failure to come to terms with the death of a civilian on the field, the impact of another civilian’s death on Orlando Foncke, and the first mistake Dominique makes as the lieutenant of East Bank station display the plight of firefighters exceptionally. Tom Lateur’s attempts to recover from his traumas with therapy show another dimension of the profession. ‘Under Fire’ succeeds in discussing the importance of mental health with regard to firefighting, which is essential for firefighters in reality as well.

‘Under Fire’ is also a critique of the abominable bureaucratic practices and decisions that affects and threatens the lives of firefighters, who walks into death traps whenever they are asked to. Through these storylines, the show succeeds in offering an authentic look at fire stations and firefighters but within the realm of fiction.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Under Fire Filmed?