Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Alan Simmons Fire Videos Are The Bomb

In the mid-1990's I became aware of Alan Simmons Fire Videos through the Firefighters Bookstore (in Huntington Beach, CA) catalog during a time I contemplated getting into firefighting. It was love at first sight with the first one of his videos I watched. At the time I was already a connoisseur of storm chase videos such as those by legends like Tim Marshall, Bill Reid, and Dean Cosgrove. I was even a connoisseur of disaster-related documentaries which included a good many NOVA videos as well as Weather Channel videos. A bit later on I acquired nearly entire television series like Wrath of God on the History Channel as well as U.S. Forest Service stock footage videos.

I also would tape live coverage of disasters on television when they happened as I did with the Northridge Quake and the 1993 and 1996 October Southern California firestorms. Of course, back in those days it was all VHS cassette for both what I purchased as well as the format in which I recorded. Later on by the late 1990's I began taping my own storm and fire videos in Hi-8MM format but never liked my own work nearly as much as that of others and elected to leave that to the professionals and instead stick to my strong suite: still photography.

Over the course of the 1990's into the first half of the 2000's I accumulated the following Alan Simmons fire videos on VHS: 1990 Universal Studios Fire, 1992 Los Angeles Burning: Fires of the 1992 Riot, Los Angeles Area Multiple Alarm Fires Volumes 1-6 including Volume 3 which features 1994's Northridge Earthquake (much footage in this was featured as stock footage in scores of documentaries ever since). I also acquired the first six volumes of his East Meets West series. Best of all, I added all three of his California Firestorm volumes '93, '96, and '99. Add to that his Hot Shots video and I owned (and still own) copies of 18 of his videos in VHS format.

As I am now finally and reluctantly fully transitioning to only DVD format in my video library I am about to get rid of all my VHS cassettes (fire videos and otherwise) and give them all to my mother. I am now left with only Alan Simmons' more recent fire videos on DVD that I have accumulated over the past decade which are as follows: West Coast Fires Volume 1, Firestorm 2003 Volumes 1-3, Firestorm 2005, Firestorm 2006 Volumes 1-2, and Firestorm 2007 Volumes 1-3.

On my agenda is to at some point acquire the following Alan Simmons fire videos on DVD: Wildland Fire 2008, October Firestorm 2008, November Firestorm 2008, Firestorm 2009 Volumes 1-2, Station Fire: August 2009 Volumes 1-2, Southern California Fires 2010, and finally, the digitally remastered 1992 Los Angeles Burning on DVD.

Although I do not intend to purchase this video I did notice that Simmons is already offering Hollywood Arson Fires: 2011 New Years Eve Weekend. As you can see he is on top of things and continues to produce timely and relevant offerings.

Something else you have probably noticed by now is how many more firestorm videos he has produced in the past decade than in the decade previous. The times they are a changin'... as is the nature of fire in California. If you are a fire buff or disaster buff or California history buff or all of those things as I am you cannot claim to have a decent video library without having at least one Alan Simmons fire video. I cannot overstate how highly I recommend Alan Simmons fire videos. Not only are they great for your own video library but they make a wonderful gift to others as well.

For the record I have no financial connection to Alan Simmons and have never met him or contacted him other than to order a video by phone and that was long ago. Given this fact and the fact that I have acquired and seen many other fire videos from other sources over the years to which I can compare this I am able to impartially and accurately judge this product.

Below are two wonderful samples of Alan Simmons' work.

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