Move over ‘Live PD’. Pierce County is getting reality TV famous with ‘First Responders Live’

A Pierce County fire department will be one of the featured crews on a new reality TV show that premieres Wednesday on the Fox network.

TV viewers who can’t get enough of “Live PD” will now have a similar show, “First Responders Live,” to add to their viewing repertoire.

Central Pierce Fire & Rescue is the only fire department on the West Coast involved with the show, said Central Pierce spokesman Capt. Darrin Shaw.

“We’re super excited,” Shaw said. “It gives our community the chance to ride along with us every Wednesday at 9 o’clock.”

The Fox network show is executive-produced by Dick Wolf, creator of the “Law & Order” franchise, and hosted by Josh Elliott.

Although it’s not affiliated with “Live PD,” the new show appears to follow the same format of that wildly popular A&E network show.

In “First Responders,” camera crews follow firefighters, police officers, medics and other first responders, who, as publicity for the show puts it, “... put their own lives on the line as they race into danger to save others.”

Elliott will provide live analysis and commentary along with experts.

“Live PD” purports, as the name suggests, to bring the action to viewers as it happens. It differs from “Cops,” which is shot and edited for broadcast at a later date.

Shaw said camera crews have been riding along with Central Pierce firefighters for the past six weeks. Fox crews are embedded at Station 61 in Parkland and Station 60 in Spanaway.

“We’re an extremely busy fire department,” Shaw said. The department ran 30,259 calls in 2018.

The show gives the community an opportunity to see what it does, from medic calls to hazardous material incidents.

“We’re very proud of our department,” Shaw said. “We love our community, and we’d love to showcase it.”

Given the amount of previous filming, it remains to be seen how live “First Responders Live” really is.

Shaw said the show will delve into the firefighters’ back stories.

Pierce County is no stranger to reality TV shows. County deputies and the Lakewood Police Department have long histories with the “Cops” TV show.

The police departments on “Live PD,” which debuted in 2016, have become media stars. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told public radio’s “This American Life” that the show has been a recruiting gold mine. The department gets Christmas cards from around the country.

“It shows what we’re dealing with,” Knezovich said. “It shows what society is dealing with.”

Not everyone is happy with the sometimes intrusive nature of “Cops” and “Live PD”.

In March, the Spokane City Council passed a new law requiring “Live PD” and similar shows to get a business license, obtain $1 million of liability insurance and get written consent from citizens who are filmed, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Shaw said the public shouldn’t be concerned about appearing on the “First Responders Live” without permission.

The camera crews have been asking everyone for consent before they film, he said. When told “no,” they turn around and leave.

Unlike “Cops,” the new show will not blur anyone who doesn’t give consent.

“They’re strongly against anything being blurred,” Shaw said of the show’s producers.

The production crews have not been a hindrance to firefighters, Shaw said.

“They don’t impede anything we do. Period,” Shaw said. “They stay out of our way.”

While Central Pierce is not receiving any payment from Fox for the show, it’s not costing them anything either, Shaw said.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.