Many, if not all, first response teams have endured significant loss and received little recognition for their bravery and sacrifice. The Granite Mountain Hotshots were one of the most renowned firefighting teams in the country. On June 30, 2013, Brendan McDonough lost nineteen of his fellow Hotshots in an inferno near Yarnell, Arizona. The recently released film, Only the Brave, tells the story of the Yarnell fire and commemorates the public safety work of first responders everywhere.

Telling McDonough’s story

Actor Miles Teller plays the role of McDonough in the film. In playing the real-life hero, Teller learned a lot about the work of first responders. “This is an incredibly tough, demanding job which requires a group of individuals to selflessly commit themselves day in and day out,” he said. The work of the first responders, Teller continued, is “this type of grueling, team-oriented work environment that forms a brotherhood, unlike something most people will ever experience.” Natural disasters of different types have become regular news stories. Skilled teams might be the only things standing between a wildfire, hurricane or earthquake and a community of people.

This movie echoes the appreciation I have for all of our first responders

Honoring the brave

This film gave Teller the opportunity to share a story that honored the work of first responders and their families. “I really felt like we honored the Granite Mountain Hotshots and the sacrifices they, and so many others in the hotshot community, make in order to help others,” Teller said. In order to portray the first responder, Teller challenged himself both mentally and physically. He went through a version of the team’s demanding physical boot camp. The boot camp, Teller explained, was a way for him to be physically tested on set in order to portray the character as honestly as possible. “These men deserve to have their story told, and watched and tweeted about. They went out as heroes.”

“This movie echoes the appreciation I have for all of our first responders,” Teller said. “The men and women in uniform who continue to put others before themselves and carry themselves with honor and integrity in order to serve and protect us all.”