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Detroit firefighters ride motorcycles to cope with PTSD

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From tragedy to brotherhood, this raw and comprehensive project shows the often harsh realities of working as a big city firefighter. 

Vancouver-based filmmaker Panayioti Yannitsos created “Florian’s Knights,” a documentary that showcases firefighters in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Detroit who use riding motorcycles to cope with the PTSD of their often mentally taxing career. 

In 2019, Yannitsos rode along with and interviewed the high-profile fire departments, visiting Detroit to speak with former Detroit Fire Association union president Myke Nevin, along with Darnell “Tiny” McLaurin and other Detroit firefighters who are apart of the firefighter motorcycle club known as the Axemen. 

McLaurin, who Yannitsos said was a fan-favorite among the film’s viewers, has been on the force for 30 years and said that the Axemen was created in Detroit in 1998 and now has more than 30 chapters across the country. 

“When he reached out to the club about being in the film obviously we were on board, we thought it was a great topic, an important topic and we were glad to be apart of it,” McLaurin said. 

Most citizens don’t get to see what happens when public service workers are off the job, and this film is important for people to recognize the tragedies that firefighters often face both on-site and at home. 

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