Fire Fighters

film no. 2

technical details:

Production A-2.

Story written February 18 to 25, 1922.

Filmed February 27 to April 1, 1922. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Previewed at Ocean Park in early May 1922, and several more times at other venues during the summer.

Released October 8, 1922. It was the 2nd film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted October 9, 1922, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU18288. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Silent two-reeler.

Probable opening title: 'Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "Fire Fighters."' The '"Our Gang" Comedies' heading may have also been used by this time, or perhaps '"Our Gang" Comedy' or '"Our Gang" Series.'

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1049, "Little Firemen," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17354.

the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Probably credited in the film as a presenter.
Supervised by Charles Parrott
Better known as Charley Chase. This credit appears in the film. Parrott was director-general of all of the studio's output during this period.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Tom McNamara
This credit appears in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial.
Titles by H. M. Walker and Tom McNamara
The film credits Walker only. Maltin & Bann add McNamara's name.
Story by Hal E. Roach and Robert F. McGowan
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
Passed by the National Board of Review
Probably indicated in the film.
studio personnel
general manager - Warren Doane
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
purchasing superintendent - John L. Murphy
still photographer - Gene Kornman
possible uncredited involvement
editing - Credit usually went to Thomas J. Crizer during this period.
titles - Tom McNamara probably illustrated the title cards.
writing - Tom McNamara, Thomas J. Crizer and Leo McCarey may have contributed gags.
property department - Charles Oelze and Dick Gilbert were probably involved in this capacity by this time.

the kids:

Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as "Booker T. Bacon"
Lead role. Virtually the star of this film, Ernie gets most of the screentime in the first half, and is featured throughout. Maltin & Bann give him the full nickname in the text section for this entry, but shorten it to "Booker T." in the cast listing. The critic in Moving Picture World still referred to him as "Sunshine Sammy" in the review for this film.
Jackie Condon as "Roosevelt Pershing Smith" or "Roosie"
Featured role. Maltin & Bann mistakenly nickname him "Rosie" for this film. He's featured pretty strongly during the scenes involving the gang, getting to serve as the fire chief simply because he owns the right hat.
Peggy Cartwright
Supporting role. She appears midway through the film driving a cart pulled by her pony. She joins the gang's fire department and is put in charge of the wireless system, getting a fairly prominent role in this film.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Supporting role. The nickname doesn't appear in either of these prints. He's seen in the first half of the film with Ernie, but doesn't take part in the gang's scenes. This was his series debut.
George "Freckles" Warde
Supporting role. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Monty O'Grady, but I'm quite sure this is incorrect. He doesn't have a huge role, but it's bigger than most of the remaining kids. He gets to accompany Ernie throughout most of the gang scenes, such as when they recruit Peggy for the fire department. Not to be confused with George "Sonny Boy" Warde.
Richard Billings
Supporting role. This is the tallest boy in the film, who later appeared as 'Muggsy' in "The Big Show" (no. 7), but is unnamed in this film. He seems to be Jackie's older brother in this film. In the book photo, he's the boy standing next to Peggy.
Betsy Ann Hisle as "Mabel" aka "Mike"
Supporting role. She's the little blonde girl with the Krazy Kat doll who gets to be the lookout. Her onscreen name is "Mabel," but the boys call her "Mike." She's shown in the center of the photo for this film in the Maltin & Bann book.
Elmo Billings
Supporting role. He mostly does ensemble acting and is paired off with Peggy throughout the gang's scenes. In the book photo, he's the boy standing next to Ernie.
other kids
Supporting role. The one remaining boy among the fire fighters, who does mostly ensemble acting. In the book photo, he's the boy standing behind Betsy Ann.
questionable listings
Winston and Weston Doty are listed by Maltin & Bann, but they don't appear in either of these prints.

the animals:

Dinah the Mule as "Lily"
Featured role. Dinah is featured throughout the film, both in the early Ernie scenes, and in the later gang scenes.
pony 002
Supporting role. This is a shorter pony than the one used in "Our Gang" (no. 1). He belongs to Peggy in this film.
Bill the Bulldog as "Officer T. Towser Barkus"
Supporting role. He appears early in the film dressed up as a cop, and then pulls the dogcart as part of the fire department.
dog 002
Bit part. He's the little dog who appears during the drunken spree. He later appeared as Jackie's dog in "Saturday Morning" (no. 6) and appeared again in "The Big Show" (no. 7).
other animals
Supporting roles, small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) A gander playing the role of "J. Quincy Quack."
(2.) A hen playing the role of "Henrietta Flapper." A title card makes reference to Thanksgiving, but she looks more like a chicken to me.
(3.) A goose playing the role of "Mrs. Quack."
(4.) A goat dressed up as Uncle Sam by Ernie.
(5.) The cat named "Tom," who gets chased by the gang's dog.
(6.) A smaller goat seen during the drunken spree. May be the same one seen in "One Terrible Day" (no. 4).
(7.) A cow seen outside the gang's fire station and probably the same one seen during the drunken spree. Later seen in "One Terrible Day" (no. 4).
(8.) At least one turkey displaying its plummage, which may or may not be another turkey shown with its tail down. The same turkey may be the one in the pen next to Farina.
(9.) Six or seven ducks in top hats uncovered by Ernie's dad from under a box.
(10.) Several additional geese, four in the pen next to Farina, a couple more next to the 'fire station,' and four more during the drunken spree, which could be the same four as earlier.
(11.) A darker goose being chased by the little dog.
(12.) Two chickens shown in the background during the drunken spree.

the adults:

Joseph Morrison as Ernie's dad
Supporting role. Or is it grandfather? He appears old and grey in this film. Is his last name "Bacon," to coincide with Ernie's? Or is it "White," to match the name on the laundry wagon (which reads 'White's Steem Larndry')? He's given a fairly notable appearance early in the film.
George Rowe as the bootlegger
Small part. He shoos the kids away from his still, and puts dog 001 on guard duty. He reappears at the end of the film getting nabbed by the cop.
Charles Stevenson as the police officer
Small part. He arrives late in the film when he smells the liquor being used in the gang's 'water boiler.'
other adults
Small part and bit part.
(1.) The woman playing Ernie's mom early in the film. She also sets the pot to boil which causes the steam, which is mistaken for smoke.
(2.) The bootlegger's customer, who appears very briefly.

the music (sort of):

"Turkey In The Straw"
Introduced sometime between 1829 and 1834, with songwriting credit claimed by at least three people. Billy Golden had a number one hit with it in 1891. This song is referenced in the text titles.
"Where Do We Go From Here" by Percy Wenrich and Howard Johnson
Popularized in 1917 shortly after the US's entry into World War I. This song is also referenced in the text titles.
"This Is The Life" by Irving Berlin
Published in 1914. The Peerless Quartet had a number three hit with this song the same year. This is another song referenced in the text titles.

the locations:

Motor Avenue and National Boulevard, Palms district, Los Angeles
In the early animal scene, we see the gander rounding the corner of a brick building with a sign for Old Crown Gasoline next to it, and a Real Estate office beyond that. The real estate office is basically a shack, which was later replaced by a blacksmith shop. It's possible that the sign over the door actually says 'blacksmith', but it looks more like 'real estate' to me. The brick building has the word 'Zerolene' printed on it. Oddly enough, it appears to be the same building shown later in the film, but without anything printed on it. On close inspection, this building reveals itself to be the Palms Garage at 3304 Motor, which can be seen more easily in "The Sun Down Limited" (no. 31). In one of the shots, the left-most building of the Palms Lumber Company on National Boulevard can be seen. The north side of the Palms Garage, facing Featherstone Street, is in the background when Jackie falls off the cart and lands in the puddle. Early in the film, the dog chases the cat up a ladder leaning against a peaked structure. This was located in between Palms Garage and the building just south of it. The structure itself was in the back of the property with National Boulevard right behind it, and was previously seen in "Our Gang" (no. 1). In the closeup of the dog and cat at the top of the ladder, it's clearly a different structure being used, presumably a shorter one built at the studio. When the cat runs out of the property, he runs through the gate of this property on Motor. As the bootlegger is about to get run into by the cop, he's in front of the Palms Press and the realty company on the west side of the 3300 block of Motor. To the right of these buildings is a brick arch which, by the time of "No Noise" (no. 20) was painted with the words Arden Grocery. The Palms Press building is also seen as the gander flirts with the hen earlier in the film. The alley that runs parallel to, and in between, Motor and Vinton Avenues can be seen as the fire vehicles enter and exit the yard of the kids' fire station. The camera is situated on National Boulevard and is looking south down this alley. The fire station itself is at a different, unknown location. The garage that the black cat runs past was later used as a location in "Giants Vs. Yanks" (no. 12), and is to the left in the same alley. The house next to it was at the corner of Vinton Avenue and National Boulevard, and is seen during the scenes where the vehicles are moving down the street. Another house shown in these scenes was on the northwest corner of Vinton and Woodbine. Not only do the vehicles drive past this house (in the shots with animal excrement on the street), but it's shown in the background as they enter the Woodbine end of the alley and head north. The Robers Cave location is almost certainly the short cliffs east of Motor Avenue and north of Featherstone Avenue which were used in many other early silent episodes.


A total of 30 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Before shooting began, story construction took place on Feb. 18th, and from Feb. 20th until Feb. 25th. No work took place on Feb. 19th, or on Feb. 26th, which were Sundays. Shooting took place from Feb. 27th until Apr. 1st. Exteriors were shot on Feb. 27th and 28th, and the production was considered 'finished' on Apr. 1st. No shooting took place on Mar. 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th, or Apr. 2nd, which were all Sundays. It's interesting to note that work on the story began the day after filming was completed on "Our Gang" (no. 1), and that filming on "Young Sherlocks" (no. 3) began the Monday after the Saturday 'finish' for "Fire Fighters."

The 1922 studio datebook reveals what the weather was like on most of the shooting dates. The weather was unsettled during the February story construction, described as 'cloudy' on the 18th, 22nd and 23rd, 'raining' on the 20th, 'rainy' on the 24th, 'spotted - rained PM' on the 26th, and 'clear' on the 21st and 25th. No description was given for the 19th. The weather was described as 'clear' almost half the time during the period from Feb. 27th to Apr. 2nd when shooting took place. However, it was described as 'medium' from Mar. 28th to Apr. 1st, 'dull' on Mar. 2nd, 3rd, and 10th, 'bright' on Feb. 27th, 'uneven' on Mar. 4th, 'raining' on Mar. 11th, 'rained' on Mar. 16th, 'medium & windy' on Mar. 26th, and 'medium & cold' on Mar. 27th. No description was given from Mar. 21st to Mar. 24th. It should also be noted that the word 'dull' was crossed out and replaced with the word 'clear' on Mar. 2nd.

When we first see them, the gang is hanging out at a small opening in a hill identified as Robers Cave.

The gang's organization is called the Goat Alley Fire Department.

This film was the second of six in the first 'series' of Our Gang films.

32 still images were printed into numerous press photos to promote this film.


Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 14 (VHS) from Video Classics
The opening and ending title cards are prepared by Video Classics, but the rest of the footage (including crew credits) is original and appears to be a complete print. The print totals 25:31, with 25:17 of it original footage. It's safe to say that almost all of the original film is included.
Our Gang - Volume #1 (1922-1923) (DVD-R) from Grapevine Video
Released early March 2006. This version is essentially the same as the Video Classics version, except that the opening title is remade. The total footage is 25:25. My original copy ended abruptly after 16:00 because of an error in the disc-copying process, but Grapevine will send a replacement disc to anybody that received one of these defective discs.
Our Gang Volume #10 (VHS) from Grapevine Video and also from The Picture Palace
This a TV print entitled "Fire Works" and is from the series Those Lovable Scallawags With Their Gangs. The main series titles are missing but the episode title card and ending title are intact. Some of the text titles are still intact, but the quality is not particularly good. Otherwise, the film is missing the opening animal footage, and has small portions cut out in various spots. The print totals 15:40, with 15:34 of it original footage. About two-thirds of the original film is included. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.
Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 7 (VHS) from HenryButch
This is essentially the same as the Grapevine VHS version.
The Our Gang Story (VHS/DVD) from GoodTimes Home Video
VHS released 1994. DVD released May 21, 2002. Also included as part of Our Gang Collector Series 4 Pack (4 DVD set), released Mar. 21, 2001, Our Gang Collector Series 5 Pack (5 VHS/DVD set), released Feb. 2002 (VHS) and Mar. 2004 (DVD), and The Best Of Our Gang Volume 1 (DVD) released June 1, 2004. A clip lasting 0:13 is included, showing Ernie getting out of the way of the goat, with narration added.

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number, and story and shooting dates)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)

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