Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

New TV show about black Baltimore firefighters aims to portray city in positive light

One producer is working to create a TV show that will "change the image of black men in this city."

If Baltimoreans seek negative stories about the city, they have plenty to choose from — just turn on the local news or "The Wire," says Steve Yarn.

But Yarn, an executive producer, thinks TV viewers crave something positive — and that retired African-American firefighters in Baltimore have plenty of inspiration to share.

Yarn aims to bring those stories to an online streaming service or TV network with "Baltimore Heat," a scripted drama series. The show will be based off the stories of Vulcan Blazers, an advocacy group of local African-American firefighters.

"One [goal] was change the image of black men in this city, and to change the image of the city away from shows like 'The Wire,'" Yarn said. "'The Wire' has critical acclaim and every time you hear about it you hear it's brilliant. ... But it's done a horrible disservice to this city all over the country."

Inspired after meeting retired Baltimore firefighter and current Vulcan Blazer Jimmie Hayes, who was a first responder when a water taxi capsized in the Inner Harbor in 2004, Yarn began speaking to retired firefighters and working on the show.

In the next couple of weeks, "Baltimore Heat" will launch a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $250,000 to help fund the initial stages of the project, before Yarn looks to get the TV show picked up.

"Baltimore Heat" is a production of Reel Good Productions (Yarn's company) and BMOREfilm. Yarn's wife, Karen Braithwaite-Yarn, is co-executive producer.

The show does not have any affiliation with the Baltimore City Fire Department, Yarn said.

In addition to filling a void of positive stories in Baltimore, Yarn also hopes to fill a void of diverse actors in TV dramas with an African-American lead and other nonwhite, nonstraight characters, he said.

"We really do want to do something positive," Yarn said. "When people see the show 'Baltimore Heat,' we want them to say, 'I'm proud to be from Baltimore.'"

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad