About a month ago, a film crew knocked on the front door of the Petaluma Fire Department. They were filming a Dodge commercial in town and asked if they could get a couple of shots of the firefighters.
"They said, 'Stand here and look serious, don't smile but don't look mad'," Battalion Chief Jeff Schach said. “They said that perhaps the image could be used for a SuperBowl ad, but they weren’t too specific. We didn’t really know much.”
On Sunday, an image of Schach and fellow Petaluma Battalion Chief Phil Sutsos appeared during the SuperBowl’s halftime in a Chrysler commercial titled “It’s Halftime in America.”
“As soon as the commercial appeared, our cell phones started ringing off the hook,” Schach, a 12-year veteran of the Petaluma Fire Department said. “It was crazy.”
Watch the ad on the right
The two-minute-long ad, featuring Clint Eastwood, shows images of American workers, factories and the firefighters to evoke the economic challenges facing the country. In the commercial, Eastwood walks along an empty street, and talks about problems the U.S. has faced in recent years, including the Detroit-based automobile industry.
Then he makes an appeal to viewers to move past the “fog of division, discord and blame” and find our way through tough times. “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch; we get up again and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines,” Eastwood says. “It’s halftime in America and our second half is about to begin.”
Following their several seconds in the national spotlight, the two firefighters have to purchase ice cream for the entire department, a tradition for anyone whose image or name appears in the press. But beyond that, the two men are honored by the symbolism the commercial evokes.
“We’re excited and very proud that they wanted to use the firefighter image as part of their message,” Schach said. “It’s an honor for the department and the city.”