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WFWA hopes to produce documentary about women on the Fort Wayne Fire Department

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 6:39 am

Local public television station WFWA, Channel 39.1, hopes to film a one-hour documentary on women's service in the Fort Wayne Fire Department.

The proposed film, “Full Circle: Women in the Fort Wayne Fire Department,” would explore the role of women on the department from the first woman firefighter, Genois Wilson Brabson, through selection of Amy Biggs as the current fire chief, said Ray Steup, a WFWA producer-director.

To commemorate Biggs' first anniversary as fire chief, Brabson presented her with a gift and words of encouragement Tuesday at the fire department offices at the Rousseau Centre, 1 E. Main St.

Steup said the idea for the documentary was inspired this past spring by local author Carol Butler's children's book about Brabson, “Genois Wilson, Firefighter: She Dared to be First.” He then met both women at a book signing they held at the downtown Allen County Public Library.

Steup also is interested in the topic because he has family connections to the Fort Wayne Fire Department: His father, Donald Steup, is a retired Fort Wayne firefighter. Ray Steup's fraternal grandfather, Raymond R. Steup, also was a Fort Wayne firefighter and was killed in the line of duty in 1948.

WFWA has been working for three or four months to raise money to underwrite production of the documentary, Steup said.

So far, the station has some pending commitments but no firm commitments, said Cathy Edwards, WFWA's corporate development manager. The station needs to raise about $25,000 to produce a 30-minute documentary and slightly less than $50,000 to create a one-hour film.

“The length of the program will be commensurate with the amount of funding we get,” Edwards said.

WFWA will not begin production of the documentary until it has secured a significant portion of the underwriting cost, she said.

If money allows, Steup envisions a one-hour documentary that would include a brief overview of the history of the Fort Wayne Fire Department. If there are any women in the upcoming class of fire department recruits, he also would like to follow them through their training and include that in the documentary.

It likely will take eight months to a year to complete the documentary once filming begins, he said.

Steup's previous documentary films for WFWA include “The Changing Face of Disability,” which won a bronze Telly Award earlier this year, and “A Watershed Mentality,” which was nominated for a regional Emmy Award in 2007.