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Clearwater firefighters to appear on TV show 'Pitchmen'

Clearwater firefighters Lt. Brian Schonborn, left, and Adam Siegel are filmed in late 2008 for an episode of Pitchmen that aired in April 2009.

Courtesy of Clearwater Fire and Rescue

Clearwater firefighters Lt. Brian Schonborn, left, and Adam Siegel are filmed in late 2008 for an episode of Pitchmen that aired in April 2009.

CLEARWATER — Clearwater firefighters will make their second appearance on the cable television show Pitchmen, a Discovery Channel series devoted to profiling unknown inventors with marketable products.

In the new season's first episode, which airs Thursday, the firefighters used their state-of the-art training facility on Belcher Road to test Cold Fire, a biodegradable liquid fire extinguisher in a can.

But don't bother asking them how it went or what they think about the product, at least not until the show runs. Fire officials promised not to leak any details.

"(The producers are) very sensitive to discussing how all this unfolds on the show," said Clearwater fire Chief Jamie Geer.

Even the firefighters who participated in the testing have no idea how the show ends or which parts of the taping are included, Geer said.

"We don't even get to see the episode before it airs. It will be a total surprise to me when I see it," he said.

Geer would say only that members of his crew put the product to the test in real-life home fire scenarios. They tested the product on a stove fire, a blazing Christmas tree and flammable materials like curtains.

"It created an opportunity for (the firefighters) to provide some innovative ideas on how best to do this in a controlled environment, yet make it as realistic as we could," Geer said.

The department wasn't paid to appear on the Discovery Channel show, but was reimbursed for the costs it incurred, Geer said.

Cold Fire was invented by Juergen Giessler in the early 1990s. When Giessler died in 2005, his son, Ray Giessler, 35, took over the family business, New Jersey-based Firefreeze Worldwide Inc.

The product is nontoxic and performs better than traditional foam extinguishers because it removes heat and breaks down the fuel source, said company owner Eveline Giessler, Ray's mother.

The formula prevents re-ignition when used properly and it's easier to use, Eveline Giessler said.

"All you need to do is open the cap and spray it," she said.

The show's new season will feature Tampa infomercial pitchman Anthony "Sully" Sullivan, who starred in the first season with his longtime friend Billy Mays. Mays died in June 2009, days before the first season's final episode ran.

Clearwater firefighters first appeared on Pitchmen in an April 2009 episode when they helped test a dual saw created by a European firefighter.

"When it aired, we had phone calls and e-mails and responses from across the country," Geer said. "People contacted us to say they saw us and it was nothing but good visibility."

Clearwater Fire and Rescue also appeared in a July 2008 episode of A&E Network's Mindfreak, in which Las Vegas illusionist Criss Angel escaped from a beach hotel as it was demolished.

Geer said he plans to attend a premiere viewing party on Thursday.

"It's a pretty neat deal," Geer said, "and we're really excited."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

. Fast facts

Want to watch?

The first episode of this year's season of Pitchmen, featuring Clearwater Fire and Rescue, will air at 9 p.m. Thursday on the Discovery Channel.

Clearwater firefighters to appear on TV show 'Pitchmen' 08/13/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 7:58pm]
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