A firefighter sent to battle a blaze meets the arsonist killer of his family, where he's forced to wrestle with feelings of forgiveness and redemption versus revenge and retribution. In the heat of a fire, you can get burned by your own history.
Script Type: Feature
Genre: Drama / Reality
Length: 92 pages
Est. Budget: $5M - $10M
A team of rural New South Wales (Australia) firefighters are sent to save a township from imminent destruction. The 'Strike Force Team', depleted by injuries to several regular members, are joined by VINNIE, a newly-trained volunteer on his first callout. The story opens at Vinnie's funeral, where his girlfriend, TILLY, delivering the eulogy, reads a segment of a poem Vinnie wrote whilst on the fatal assignment.
The firefighters - BRUCE, the driver; TESS, the team leader; JARRAH, an Aboriginal firefighter; and young Vinnie himself - get to know each other in the cab of the fire truck as it races towards the under-threat township. During their banter, Jarrah reveals that his motivation for being a firefighter was the loss of his wife and children in a fire several years' ago. He finds out that Vinnie grew up where he used to live with his family before they died. When pressed for more information about himself, the reticent Vinnie reveals that he writes poetry and almost lets slip a secret from his past.
As they get closer to their destination, they learn from the radio that the weather conditions have changed and they are now facing unpredictable winds and uncontained fires that may converge to form a 'mega-blaze'. The danger of what they're about to face is highlighted when they are forced to drive through burning bush. Tess reassures Vinnie that no-one will die on her watch.
On their arrival at the township they are met by FRANK, the only remaining resident. Vinnie calls Tilly to reassure her and writes more of his poem.
When the fire front hits, they are quickly overwhelmed. Both Frank and Bruce perish in the fire and a panicked Vinnie, finding himself isolated and surrounded by smoke, hears Tilly lamenting the fact that he's abandoned her. He wonders if he is dead.
Rescued by Jarrah, Vinnie confesses his secret: as a young arsonist, it was Vinnie who was responsible for the death of Jarrah's wife and children, hence his desire to become a firefighter in an attempt to make amends. Vinnie asks Jarrah for forgiveness and when this is refused, Vinnie runs into the burning bush. Jarrah refuses a distraught Tess's plea to save Vinnie.
At Vinnie's funeral, Jarrah and Tess join Tilly in finishing off reciting Vinnie's poem about bushfires, retrieved from his body.
A year later, Jarrah and Tilly are together, and Jarrah refuses Tess's request to rejoin the force for the new season of bushfires. The reason? Tilly is pregnant and the two are set to make a new life together.