JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind — Two Johnson County fire departments are about to get their moments in the spotlight thanks to the YouTube channel “Heroes Next Door.”
“It’s really cool, and we’re going to use it as a volunteer recruitment tool,” said New Whiteland Fire Chief Dale Saucier.
Heroes Next Door is a Pennsylvania-based production that goes behind the scenes at local fire departments to produce episodes like “Station Rigs” and “Station Cribs.”
Station Rigs focuses on equipment and apparatus used by firefighters on the job. Station Cribs is shot in the style of “MTV Cribs” to give viewers a look at where firefighters eat, sleep and spend their downtime between emergency calls.
Until recently, the show had only visited fire stations in Pennsylvania. However, back in December, Chief Saucier was browsing YouTube when he came across the channel.
“I got a recommended view of a video, so I ended up clicking on it, and it was the Heroes Next Door,” he said.
“He reached out and was like, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in coming to Indiana?’” said Heroes Next Door producer Harrison Burch. “And we’re like, ‘Yeah, absolutely, sounds awesome.’”
So, a couple weeks ago, Burch and Heroes Next Door host Mike Borrello came to shoot episodes at New Whiteland and White River Township Fire Departments. The episodes will feature interviews and tours at New Whiteland’s headquarters and White River Township stations 53 and 51.
“We’re proud of our town, and we’re proud of our equipment that our town has given us,” Saucier said. “And as firefighters, we like to show off our firehouses.”
“To be able to come and look at what we do and where we live and a little bit about the history and traditions related to the firehouse,” said White River Township Lieutenant David Scholl.
Borrello, who has been a paramedic and firefighter for 25 years, says his passion for producing the episodes comes from his desire to introduce a younger generation to the fire service. He and Burch hope to encourage young people to either volunteer or explore a career as a firefighter.
“We’re getting some in the younger generation say, ‘Hey, I’ve been interested in this, but I don’t know how to go about doing this,’” Borrello said. “So I didn’t know I could go to my local firehouse and just say, ‘Hey, I’m interested in helping,’ and they will help them through the steps.”
Burch, who is also Borrello’s son-in-law, came up with the idea of using a YouTube channel to reach that younger generation.
“We have a lot of volunteer stations, and a lot of them are struggling to find new volunteers,” Burch explained. “If you go driving down the highway, you’ll see billboards that say volunteer now at your local fire department.”
Aside from promoting volunteerism, Heroes Next Door is also setting aside 10% of their proceeds from ad revenue and sponsorships to go toward grant programs for smaller fire departments who need funding help.
“So if they need an extra set of gear or they need something like that, hopefully we can help them out with that,” Borrello said.
Eventually, Borrello and Burch hope to visit fire stations in all 50 states. This brief trip to central Indiana is the first step in that cross-country journey.
New episodes on Heroes Next Door typically go live at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays. The New Whiteland episode of Station Rigs is set to start streaming Wednesday morning, with the Station Cribs episode going live on Sunday morning.
The episodes at White River Township Fire Department will be online in the next couple weeks, Burch said.