NBC’s new Dick Wolf drama “Chicago Fire” spotlights a Chicago firehouse that has recently lost a man in a fire, focusing on the fall-out of the tragedy on the other team members. At the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, Wolf touted the show as a realistic portrayal of life as a firefighter.
“The firemen looked at the pilot and were happy,” he says. “They were kind of blown away.”
Writers based the firehouse on a real one in Chicago, which houses
several departments. “There is a rescue squad, a truck company, and
paramedics in the same building, so over the course of a shift it’s very
busy in there because you’re hearing bells go off for all three types
of units. If you’re sitting outside that firehouse in Chicago, they’re
rolling in and out of there all day long with paramedics going out more
than the firemen,” Wolf explains.
Part of the realism involved training and research with real firefighters for stars Taylor Kinney (of “The Vampire Diaries” hot Uncle Mason fame) and “House’s” Jesse Spencer. Kinney tells the press that the most profound part of the experience for him was bearing witness to the family atmosphere in the firehouse.
“That experience is invaluable. You spend a 24-hour shift with these people. David Eigenberg would call it a sleepover,” he jokes. “It’s not a sleepover. But it’s a full shift, so it’s a bond, it’s a brotherhood, it’s a camaraderie, and you see the way these people interact and then how kind of jovial that can be in the firehouse. And then when they go out, when the bell rings, when they go to a job, they’re doing work, they’re doing their job, and they flip a switch.”
Kinney goes on to describe the actual training regimen, which involved a simulated fire rescue mission in a burning building. “There’s smoke and fire, and you’re clearing a room, so you’re looking for victims,” Kinney says. “We, fr the most part, had it blocked out where we could do this in a room with our gear on, [but] without the elements. Then you walk into a smoke-filled room that’s over 200 degrees, and it’s a shock to the senses. You really can’t see four feet in front of you.”
The firefighters look at their lifestyles as a job, not as a show of heroism. “We call them heroes… they have a very noble profession, but I think that’s a [a] very outsider perspective,” Spencer says. “That’s where our show is good, because we’re concentrating on the characters. They don’t see themselves as heroes. They’re guys, they’re gals, and they’re doing their job and it’s a dangerous job and they run into these situations and they have issues with each other, and they might not necessarily like each other that much. But once they get together as a unit, they work together as a unit and that’s what they do best.”