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Firefighter wins prestigious TV award for work during wildfires

Firefighter wins prestigiousTV award for work during wildfir

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A firefighter took home a prestigious TV award Saturday night for video he captured behind the fire lines during the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires.

Steve Schopper works as the video and audio specialist for Colorado Springs Fire Department. He shot video behind the fire lines during the Waldo Canyon Fire in June 2012 and the Black Forest Fire in June of 2013.

"It's still raw for a lot of us that were in that fire, that stuff will stay with us for the rest of our lives. That's the biggest thing we will ever see in our career," said Schopper.

He drove around neighborhoods engulfed in flames with a camera. During one video clip, embers the size of his fist rain down on him while he videotapes a home burning.

"My heart was racing and I was going, 'This is it.  This is really big time major league stuff and we need to be very careful about how we approach documenting it,'" said Schopper.

He was nervous about the task at hand, but he was on a mission to capture the hard work of firefighters risking their lives to fight the flames.

The Denver Post used his video in a documentary it produced on wildfires. It included Schopper as a photojournalist on its entry form for an Emmy Award.

Schopper was honored to be included, and thrilled when the group won for their category.

"I sprung out of my chair and gave a great big scream and ran over to the production crew and gave them a great big hug," said Schopper.

He didn't give an acceptance speech when he accepted the gold trophy, but if he did, he would thank CSFD.

"You don't see a lot of videographers assigned to a fire department," said Schopper. "That's a sign of a very progressive department and one that knows that there is value in this newer technology and video to be used for training purposes and to use to become better firefighters and serve the public better."

Schopper's Emmy Award will be on display at CSFD headquarters for several months. After that, he plans to take it home and put it on his mantel.


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