Fireproof: Part 4

While Caleb bonds with a man friend…Catherine is bonding with a man friend, too!

I know the movie wants us to think that Doctor What’s-His-Name is a slimeball (spoiler alert: he is one), but here he just so happens to be doing one of the many, many things that Caleb hasn’t done: he listens to Catherine.  He lets her talk about her feelings and doesn’t judge her.  He commends her for helping her parents.  (This is an especially noteworthy compliment, as it’s an issue Catherine is very sensitive about—remember when Caleb first screamed a list of insults in her face?  The one she objected to was “selfish.”)


Fire alarm!

The boys (of course Albany, Georgia doesn’t have any female firefighters.  Don’t be ridiculous.) head out to a house fire.  Long story short, it’s pretty bad, and a little girl is trapped inside, natch.

For all his talk (even in the truck on the way to this very fire) about sticking with your partner, Caleb…crawls into the house on his own, looking for the kid.  Everyone else sticks at the front of the house and are separated from Caleb when some of the roof caves.

So, Caleb is trapped in a back bedroom with the kid, but without his partner.  Because he left his partner.

Oh, and for reasons best known to himself, Caleb deliberately set down his walkie-talkie before heading into the house.  So he has no way of letting anyone know exactly where her is.

And, and, he can’t break a window because they’re all barred.

Now, I am about as far from being an expert on firefighting as it is possible to be, but is it really advisable for Caleb to take off his oxygen mask and his firefighting jacket, and put them on the unconscious kid?  Doesn’t Caleb need them more at this moment?  I mean, I keep thinking about being on an airplane—secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.  Because if Caleb is injured or collapses from smoke inhalation, they’re both screwed.  Isn’t it better, instead of wasting time fumbling with the gear, to get them both out as quickly as possible so the kid can get medical attention?

But it’s probably okay, because Caleb prays!

Caleb:  God, get me out of here.  Get us out of here.

God:  Sure thing, Caleb.  Just radio your crew, and…oh.  Right.  You left your walkie-talkie outside like a dumbass, Caleb.

Anyway, Caleb uses his fire axe to break through the floor.  (And expends a lot of energy doing so, necessitating some heavy breathing.  Gee, sure would be nice to have an oxygen mask about now, eh, Caleb?  It’s one of those basement-less houses that sits on cinderblocks, so Caleb crawls out, dragging the kid, and makes it away Just In Time.

(btw, you can see a lot of the fire scenes in the trailer)

Phew.  I was worried there.


In the hospital, Catherine checks in on Caleb just as the nurse (I can only assume she’s a nurse, because she’s a she) is dressing Caleb’s partial thickness burn on his arm.

I can only assume he wouldn’t have gotten that had he kept his jacket on, but I digress.

The nurse then tells Catherine that Caleb only has first-degree burns, and this movie should have found a medical advisor, because partial thickness burns are second-degree burns, not first-degree burns, so Caleb has both first- and second-degree burns.

Stupid movie.

The doctor in attendance is Flirty Doctor What’s-His-Face, who reacts with some surprise to hearing that Caleb is Catherine’s husband.  Which, okay, if he is surprised that this particular guy is Catherine’s husband, but he shouldn’t be surprised that Catherine has a husband (separated-in-all-but-name though they are) because Catherine was wearing her wedding ring until three weeks ago.

Catherine:  Well, let me get out of your way.

Nurse:  Oh, no, you’re not in our way; you can stay.

Catherine:  No, it’s alright.  I’ll let you do your jobs.  *walks away*

Let me say right now—I will never get tired of seeing Catherine blow off Caleb.  (Especially since I know it won’t last much longer.  Sad face.)

Caleb and Flirty Doctor have a moment when the nurse heads off to get more gauze.  Caleb put his wedding ring back on his burned and swollen hand.  (Gee, sure would have been nice if you had been wearing some protective gear inside that burning house, eh, Caleb?)  Flirty Doctor advises that he should keep the ring off until the hand has a chance to heal.

Caleb:  My hand’s gonna have to heal with this on my finger.

People are so silly when they purposely go through pain to prove a point.  I mean, Jesus, Caleb, put the ring on a chain and wear it or something.  I can only hope that God would understand.

An aside: I know that the whole wedding ring bit is supposed to be the proof that Caleb is officially a Changed Man, but to me, a better demonstration of changedness would have been for Caleb to check on the condition of the little girl he saved.  But that’s just me.


Caleb’s changedness doesn’t extend to his mom, of course.

Caleb:  *on the phone*  Mom, it’ll be fine.  It’s gonna heal up in a couple of weeks. … Yes, I’ve got it wrapped up right now.  Can I speak with Dad, please?  Okay, Mom, I got it.  Now, would you please hand the phone to Dad?  Thank you.  *to John*  Dad, would you please ask Mom to cut me some slack?

Young man, I will slap that smart mouth of yours right now, you keep disrespecting your mother like that!

Sadly, John says nothing like that.  Instead, he just lets Caleb brag on how he’s received so many requests for interviews.

Caleb:  Seems I’m a hero with everybody in the world except my wife.


Sorry it’s a short one this time, guys.  Been a long week at work and I need to catch some sleep.

Next time: Caleb confronts his porn addiction!


Posted on July 30, 2014, in Fireproof, Movies. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Yes, Caleb has changed. He’s gone from being a nonreligious asshole, to being a religious asshole. We’ve seen this in Christian fiction before. Buck and Rayford of Left Behind, and Paul of Soon/Silenced underwent similar changes. I’m sure fundie Christians would think differently, but I don’t see this as an improvement. I’d much rather see these “heroes” start acting like decent human beings.

    • The funny thing is, unlike Jenkins’ “heroes”, Caleb actually has some heroic qualities under his belt… but he had those before he converted, so becoming a Christian still changes jack-shit.

      There didn’t seem to be any indication that this latest risk-your-life-to-save-a-child action is something he wouldn’t have done before his conversion. The only change is that he now prays for the rescue to work.

      Given that this is a Christian movie, the prayer might actually have been the significant factor that let him pull off this rescue. But I hope that isn’t the case: I’d hate to have a god who’ll happily let a child burn to death if the firefighter rescuing her isn’t a proper worshipper.

      • My thoughts exactly. If you believe that prayers actually work, praying for someone’s life becomes rather horrifying since it implies that otherwise God wouldn’t care. And if prayer is somehow required before God can intervene, why not just pray for God to protect the lives of everyone on the planet? Do prayers come with some genie-like “no wishing for more wishes” limitations on what you can ask?

        Also, we don’t know anything about the kid’s parents or their religious status, but I think it’s fair to say that most parents would agree to some variation of: “Please God, let there not be a fire that kills my child.” Since that earlier implied prayer obviously hadn’t worked, I don’t see why Caleb thinks that his will make a difference.

        Oh, and Caleb prays for his own life first before adding the kid to the list. Because of course he does. “In the event of being trapped in a burning building, prayer opportunities will arise. Secure your own supernatural aid before assisting others. Emergency holy lights will indicate your nearest exit. Do not inflate your ego until you are outside the building.”

      • There didn’t seem to be any indication that this latest risk-your-life-to-save-a-child action is something he wouldn’t have done before his conversion. The only change is that he now prays for the rescue to work.

        He did do it before his conversion: when he saved those two girls from the car stuck on the train tracks, he put himself and his crew at great risk of getting hit by a train! (I only briefly mentioned it in Part 2 because, honestly, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds.)

  2. So Caleb goes in without a partner, leaves behind his radio so he doesn’t communicate with his team, and takes off his protective gear in a dangerous situation. This is very clearly self-destructive behavior from an experienced fire chief. How will the movie address these behaviors? Will it be:

    1.) They won’t. It’s just a plot device to put him in the hospital with his wife and advance the plot.

    2a.) Caleb will be suspended, pending a psychiatric evaluation. His co-worker knows he’s separated from his wife, and he just engaged in high-risk behavior. Working with a therapist will help Caleb recognize his bad behavior, both towards himself and his wife.

    2b.) Caleb will be reprimanded (formally or informally) for taking high risk behavior; his separation will be brought up, and he will be told to talk to a priest. Movie: if you do this, I may throw up.

    3a.) Sure, Caleb saving lives by harassing teenagers didn’t impress his wife enough for her to let his behavior slide, but now that he’s injured she starts thinking about how short life really is, and how dangerous his job is, and how maybe she’s part of the problem in the marriage too and could do things differently. Movie: if you do this, I will definitely throw up.

    3b.) Caleb’s high-risk behavior was motivated out of the child-like simple thinking of 3a. above, but everyone around him sees it for the transparent attempt at manipulation. Caleb is chided for trying the “quick fix” in some way or another (probably by his father) and encouraged to continue doing the love-dare-thing. Movie: I won’t throw up if you do this, but you won’t exactly be exceeding expectations either.

    4.) Some acknowledgement is briefly made of the risks he took, but it’s overshadowed by “saving a life”. Any admonishment is done gently, possibly through humor, such as a Title Drop: “Don’t go doing that again! You’re not Fireproof, you know!” I already know better than to hope the movie does not do this, because it probably does this.

      • Yeah, while there are obviously ways they could have acknowledged the self-destructive behavior that would have been even worse than not acknowledging it at all, but any acknowledgement would have surprised me more than no acknowledgement. The impression I got from your description was that they’re thinking this is What Heroic Firefighters Do.

  3. Does anyone reading here have any knowledge of how someone becomes a fire chief? I have to say, even though, like Ruby, I have exactly zero knowledge of how someone becomes one or what the duties of one are, it seems to me that Caleb is extremely unqualified for the job. Besides his general incompetency in fighting fires, it seems that from what we’ve seen so far, once the fire truck actually arrives at the site of the fire and it’s time for the actual job to start, Caleb completely forgets about the other firefighters that, you know [i]he’s supposed to be in charge of.[/i] Again, I know absolutely nothing about the duties of a fire chief, but it seems to me that a significant amount of it would be devoted to looking out for the people working under you, but Caleb seems to not only be completely unconcerned with the other firefighters’ well-being, but even that the probability that they could be injured or even killed even exists. And, what’s worse, if one of them ever did die, I can’t see Caleb caring about that fact very much. Oh, sure, he’d probably feel bad that [i]he[/i] failed to protect someone, but wouldn’t spare a thought about the actual person who died or the loved ones they left behind.

    I really wonder what the other firefighters put up with Caleb as their chief, since they seem fairly competent (compared to Caleb, anyway). I realize the movie wants us to see Caleb as really great at his job, but I can’t help but think that in the real world the entire station would be trying to get him replaced as quickly as possible.

  4. inquisitiveraven

    Waves hand. Hi, technically I’ve never been a firefighter, but as some folks might remember from the Soon deconstruction, I was an EMT at a fire company, so I have some idea of how they function. One caveat: I was a volunteer at a fire company in PA. I don’t know how details like the rank system would differ at a paid company or a company in Georgia.

    Where I was, the fire chief was an elected position. The guy who was chief when I joined got voted out a few years later. His replacement was a cop who worked in a neighboring township. Now, I rather suspect that professional fire companies do not elect (battalion) chiefs, but I expect that they would promote on the basis of a) seniority, and b) demonstrated ability. Caleb is falling down pretty badly on the demonstrated ability front.

    Actually, the more I think about this, the longer the comment looks like it’s getting. If our hostess approves the idea, maybe I could write up a guest post on how fire companies work IRL and explain what exactly Caleb has been doing wrong, I mean aside from everything. If not, well, I guess I can use as many comments as it takes. Ruby, I can be reached at rhoadan at google’s oh so fine mail service. If other commenters have questions about the subject, I’ll try to answer those as well.

    • inquisitiveraven, that sounds fantastic! I would love the insider’s view on exactly how bad this really is. I’ll get in touch with you about submitting right away. 🙂

  5. “Catherine: No, it’s alright. I’ll let you do your jobs. *walks away*”

    To be completely fair, I do think Catherine is going too far here. Sure, Caleb is a whiney narcist, but here he’s is carted in with severe injuries, and the news that he’s lucky to have survived at all. If that happened to a passing acquaintance of yours, you’d show a bit of sympathy at least. I don’t think showing some to your ex-husband is too much to ask.

    I could understand it if they’d shown us that Catherine is (not without justification) terrified of Caleb and doesn’t feel she’ll be safe from him even after her divorce. His unexplained actions to prevent her from leaving, coupled with his still repeated demands for respect, might lead her to believe that he’s a controling, possesive jerk who doesn’t love her but nonetheless wants the woman who is “his” to stay with him and acknowledge his greatness. Hell, she might be right. (“Seems I’m a hero with everybody in the world except my wife.”)

    But the movie wants us to believe that her main problem with Caleb is that he looks at porn. And that’s not a good reason to not care if a man you once loved dies, at least not in my book.

    • Well, in Catherine’s defense, the doctors are basically done with Caleb, who is sitting up, talking normally, wearing his street clothes, and will be released within five minutes. He has one second-degree burn on his arm, which is serious, though really, it’s the movie that seems not to understand that, not Catherine.

      Plus, Catherine is the daughter of a firefighter, and thus probably has a good understanding of a serious situation and a VERY serious situation. I can’t help but feel that she was probably also put off by the nurse’s statement that, “You’ve got a hero on your hands,” because that is always what Caleb has thrown in her face when he demands “respect.” So I can see why she wouldn’t want to be near him at such a time. Not because she is physically scared of him, but because she’s tired of the game.

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