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September 23, 1986|Lee Margulies

"Firefighter" never heats up. It doesn't even ignite.

The two-hour TV movie, tonight at 9 on Channels 2 and 8, substitutes chronology for drama. After introducing us to female firefighter Cindy Fralick (portrayed by Nancy McKeon of "The Facts of Life"), it recounts in a straightforward, unexciting fashion the steps by which she, in 1983, became the first woman to join the Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

Let's see: First she made the decision to sign up, then she took the written exam, then the oral interview, then the physical agility test. After that she went to the training academy, graduated and joined the force, where she fought fires and learned to be a paramedic.

Not exactly compelling. Nor is it particularly instructive or inspirational. Obstacles such as male chauvinism, the invasion of a previously all-male environment and the wives' reaction to a woman sleeping in the bunk room with their husbands crop up, only to be overcome or dismissed in a single scene. No need to ruffle any feathers, apparently.

Not even the scenery rings true, and for good reason: This is the ultimate runaway production--a film set in Los Angeles that, for economic reasons, was filmed in Vancouver.

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