‘Chicago Fire’: How the Show Compares to Real Life Firefighting

by Lauren Boisvert

“Chicago Fire” does its best to stay as accurate as possible when depicting first responders, and for the most part it succeeds. That’s mostly to do with the actual firefighters the show employs as extras and consultants. “Chicago Fire” also uses real tools, trucks, and even fire to make things as authentic as possible.

But there’s one thing that actual first responders who watch the show have beef with: the smoke. Or, more accurately, the lack of smoke.

Real structure fires create massive amounts of smoke, but even though they’re using real fire on set, it’s still not an exact replica of a burning building. The fires are controlled, and they’re not literally burning down a bunch of buildings every week. Former firefighter Steve Chikerotis told the AV Club, “[The smoke is] the only exception. [T]he smoke is 90 percent less than in an actual incident. If you shut your eyes right now, that’s our visibility in an average fire.”

So, smoke is a huge factor when depicting actual fires. But, creating that much smoke would result in a health and safety hazard for the cast and crew. Maybe not for the cast, as they’re in real firefighting gear, but definitely for the crew on set. Additionally, while you can relatively control a fire, there’s just no way to wrangle smoke into cooperating for a scene. Best to leave it out altogether and just ask viewers to suspend their disbelief.

One Long Lost Character is Coming Back to ‘Chicago Fire’

We haven’t seen Wendy Seager in a while, but it looks like she’s coming back to “Chicago Fire” to help Severide with another arson case. Seager, if you’ll recall, works for the Office of Fire Investigation, and previously helped Severide on his arson case. Now, there are the church fires, and Severide may need Seager’s help again.

We don’t know when or for how long she’ll be returning. Showrunner Derek Haas had a few things to say about her coming back, as well as Severide’s interest in arson as a character choice. “Making Severide interested in arson and having a knack for it lends itself to some cool stories that we just normally wouldn’t tell in a show about just a firehouse,” said Haas. “So we’re definitely bringing that back.”

He also mentioned the stories they want to tell with the arson cases, saying, “We’ve been reading a lot of interesting articles about cases and the way they can go in any direction. ‘Was it an insurance claim? Was this even arson?’ is, to us, interesting, and then you throw Seager and Van Meter into the mix, and we just think that’s fun. They love Severide. They want him to work there. And that makes it fun for us, to be able to push him into those stories and pull them back out. There’ll be a few more of those before the year is over. You haven’t seen the last of Seager.”