Fire Department Inc.

Firefighters Under Fire

Project type: Nonfiction Feature
Project status: Production
Director/Producer: Colin C. Hughes
Producer: Caley Shannon
Executive Producer: Michael X. Flores
Cinematographer: Brendan Deane
Editor: JJ Evans
Facebook: FireDeptInc
Twitter: @FD_Inc
Instagram: @firedeptinc
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A suburban firefighter’s labor union finds itself under a different kind of fire when the Village Mayor announces he’s privatizing their department to save money. What results is a five year long legal battle with the potential to change labor law for the entire country.


North Riverside, Illinois is a village just west of Chicago with a thriving mall that has provided outsized revenue to its population of less than 7,000 residents since its opening in 1974. This picture of suburban affluence was shattered in 2008, with the housing crash, the resulting economic recession, and the concurrent rise of e-commerce decimated brick and mortar store profits, and thus the village’s sales tax revenue. The Village finds itself more deeply entrenched in financial woes each year, and by 2013 is massively in debt to their firefighters’ pension fund. The newly-elected Mayor comes up with a plan.

A week later, Chris Kribales, Vice President of the North Riverside Firefighters Union Local 2714, walks into the Mayor’s office to begin to negotiate a contract to replace the one that had expired in May. Although expecting tough negotiations, Kribales was completely unprepared for the Mayor’s ultimatum; join a private fire fighting company, give up your pensions and disband your union, or get fired. Kribales and the bargaining team bring the Mayor’s ultimatum to the rest of the firefighters. The response is a unanimous vote to reject scabbing on themselves. Kribales brings the decision to the Mayor and one month later each firefighter receives a termination notice, citing contract negotiation deadlock as the cause..

There’s a small hitch. The Village’s play is illegal in Illinois. A village can not terminate unionized firefighters, even after a contract expires. And so begins a five year long court battle that goes all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court.

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Meet the Filmmakers

Colin C. Hughes — Director/Producer

Colin, born a Chicagoan, has worked on multiple internationally recognized films over the course of the last few years. Most recently, he was the editor of Hominidae (2020), a short film that premiered at Sundance Film Festival. As a director Colin has had critical success with his short film Clarity which took home an honorable mention at the 2015 After Hours Film Festival. After finishing up a degree in Film & Television Production at DePaul University, Colin went on to work for Light Iron, a Panavision Company. There he works as a dailies colorist for many of today’s most talked about shows, including Emily In Paris — sorry France. Today he lives in his parent’s basement in Riverside, Illinois — still waiting for that pandemic ending miracle that was promised for last April.

Caley Shannon — Producer

Caley Shannon is a Chicagoan with deep roots in the communities where our story takes place. She has a liberal arts degree from Carleton College, which means she can do anything in general and nothing in particular. Caley associate produced the Emmy-nominated series Almost Famous, a Breakwater Studios production that was released in 2019 on the New York Times Op Docs platform. Caley also co-produced A Concerto Is A Conversation, which will have its festival debut at Sundance in 2021.She has been at the helm of brand films both domestically and internationally for noted clients such as Charles Schwab, Unity Technologies, Kelly Services, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Caley lives in East Hollywood with 3 plants and is spending the pandemic on her yoga mat trying to stay sane.

Michael X. Flores — Executive Producer

Michael X. Flores has worked on several award-winning films since graduating from the University of Southern California (USC), where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema-Television Production. While studying at USC, Michael edited the Student-Emmy-winning TV pilot, Cost of Living and wrote and directed an award-winning short film called Esperando (Waiting/Hoping). After graduating from USC, Michael worked as an assistant editor on Tamra Davis’s documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and on Bess Kargman’s documentary First Position (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. He then edited Nick Broomfield’s documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; Lisa and Laura Wilson’s documentary Last Will. & Testament (2012), which was executive produced by Roland Emmerich; and Kimberly Bautista’s documentary Justice for My Sister (2012), which won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. He also worked on Neil Berkeley’s documentary Harmontown (2014), which premiered at South by Southwest; Tommy O’Haver’s narrative feature for Netflix, The Most Hated Woman in America (2017), which premiered at South by Southwest; and Jason Kohn’s documentary for Showtime, Love Means Zero (2017), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In addition to working on these feature-length projects, he has also worked on a variety of other projects including narrative shorts, music videos, and commercials, and currently teaches film at DePaul University.

Brendan Deane — Cinematographer

Brendan has been a lifelong lover of storytelling through film. He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Cinematography. He continues to work in Chicago on many television shows including Chicago Med and Lovecraft Country.

JJ Evans — Editor

JJ has been editing a wide variety of film and video work over the past 15 years, continually sharpening his skill to tell stories through film. After getting his start working in TV and docs in NYC, he’s since relocated to Chicago and been busy editing a wide-range of content from TV to shorts to feature-length documentaries, music videos, live events, and a wide variety of artistic and corporate work. Recently he produced, edited and co-scored Belonging in the USA: The Story of Michael D. McCarty, which won Best Documentary at the Borderscenes film festival.

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