As a photographer I usually find myself in a studio or on location undertaking photographic commissions which have been pre arranged well in advance.
On the night of December 13th 2013, I was in my 14th floor apartment in the Montcalm quarter of Quebec, preparing for a forthcoming business trip. All of my photographic equipment was on the dining room table as I was checking it prior to packing it ready to leave for Hawaii.
I happened to look out of my patio doors and saw an intense orange glow coming from the floor below me. Although at that time I could not see any flames or smoke. At the time I did not consider the weird light as being out of the ordinary as everything was calm and I could not hear any sirens.
A few seconds later I heard people screaming and shouting. They were shouting ‘get out of here’ and I suddenly realised there may be a fire in the building where I live and in the apartment below mine. I quickly put my coat on and returned to my balcony for just a second to try and see where the fire was and to ascertain if I needed to get out of the building if it was my building that was actually on fire!
From the balcony I was able to see flames coming from a small shed like structure located on the balcony of the top floor apartment opposite mine. At this moment I saw a terrified father running out of the building carrying his crying daughter in his arms – there were no other sounds just the sound of the little girl crying uncontrollably.
I quickly thought to myself, ‘what can I do to help?’ – the only thing I thought I could possibly do was to get back inside my apartment and put a lens on my camera and photograph the events unfolding before me. I wanted to demonstrate to the world the efforts of the firefighters who were responding to the scene and how their courage, skilful actions and team work was necessary to fight this fire. I subsequently found out that this was a four alarm fire.
During the next hour I stood on my balcony in temperatures between –15 and –20 taking photographs as the firefighters went about their work in a controlled and professional manner. They were battling with the plummeting temperatures of a Quebec winters night and the effects this has on firefighting operations.
I witnessed the team work between the firefighters and throughout the incident never saw a firefighter working alone – they were always working together as a team. The only photograph which showed a firefighter alone was the one where his colleague was engulfed in the swirling smoke.
After the flames and smoke died down, I returned to my apartment, with ice cold hands, and took my time to edit the photographs in black and white. I was amazed with the photographs I had taken and decided that I must give copies of them to the firefighters who attended the fire.
I have also had my photographs published in the United States and Canada. The following website contains video footage of the fire which can be accessed at www.zone911.fm93.com/actualites/incendies/item/17712-incendie-majeur-dans-le-quartier-montcalm-a-quebec
I am also offering to personally sign copies of these images for readers of International Fire Fighter magazine in addition to a 10% discount (discount code: iffmag) until November 1st 2014 – please visit my website for further details.
For more information, go to www.jfbolduc.com