by Jose Jehuda Garcia
My name is Jose and I’m one of the producers on “Cut it in Half: Fire Truck.” Like with any NatGeo show, producing Cut it in Half was an interesting, educational experience. And as we captured the images and researched the topic that comprises this program, I learned a lot of things — not only about fire trucks — but also about a number of cutting technologies.
Our days at Ben Clark Training Center always started out foggy, but before too long we were left with a very hot day. It’s smack down in the middle of the desert. I was wearing a hat every day. So by the time the shoot was over, I looked like a candy corn: different shades of dark from my forehead — which was protected from the sun the whole time — to my face, to my arms, which were the darkest I’ve seen in a while. Lucky for me, I didn’t burn.
Not sure I can say the same about Eddie, Eric, and Eddie’s assistant Dave. There really was no way to provide them with adequate shade while they worked. We had a tent nearby, but — obviously — they could hardly spend any time there if they had to do the work of cutting the truck.
I think something that contributed to the heat was the fact that for a good part of our time at Ben Clark, plasma cutters were being operated. Those things burn quite hot. In fact, a plasma jet from a plasma cutter is several times hotter than the surface of the sun. Crazy!
Video: Sawing Through a Fire Truck
Which brings me to the topic of safety. Eddie’s crazy saw invention and plasma cutters are — at the end of the day — industrial tools. And that made our set an industrial work site of sorts. With that comes an element of risk. It’s not like we were required to wear hard hats or anything, but the bottom line is that people could get hurt operating some of these tools. People could get hurt trying to cut a fire truck in half, period. So don’t try any of this stuff — as discussed here and as seen on the show — at home. The people who did it for our show are experts.
Eddie actually convened a safety meeting before starting the saw and delineated a safety perimeter around the truck, within which most of the crew wasn’t allowed. The fact is Eddie’s saw runs on an engine capable of a 100 horsepower, so it spins pretty fast. And if something were to go wrong, well, he said there was a chance we could lose a limb or end up decapitated.
I don’t know whether he was exaggerating or not, but staying a healthy distance from the saw seemed like a good idea.