‘Chicago Fire’ Features Real First Responders in the Show

by John Jamison

Becoming a firefighter has to be the unlikeliest road to landing a real acting gig on network television, but that’s precisely what happened for Anthony Ferraris. He’s a real firefighter who has appeared in nearly 160 episodes of Chicago Fire since 2012.

That’s right. Dick Wolf’s franchise depicting the work and lives of first responders in firefighting, the medical field, and law enforcement features actual first responders. And no, their presence in the respective series isn’t just background.

In the case of Chicago Fire, Anthony Ferraris showed up to the set after an email from the firefighter’s union mentioned a show looking for extras. As it happens, he was the only person on set qualified to “drive squad.”

“Steve Chikerotis, the show’s technical advisor, who I’ve known for years, asked me if I would drive. I said sure, and that’s pretty much how it all went down. I started out as an extra, and then Derek Haas (our Chicago Fire showrunner) approached me around episode five or six and asked me to read for him. Then they started writing me in,” Ferraris told Wolf Entertainment in 2020.

Can you imagine? One day you’re on call at the actual firehouse, the next, you’re acting opposite Taylor Kinney in a popular NBC TV show. Obviously, Anthony Ferraris is the exception. Chicago Fire isn’t just writing first responders into the show left and right. But they do use real firefighters for tons of stuff on the show. Whenever there’s an incident depicted during an episode, those are real firefighters out there doing their thing more often than not.

It also helps that Anthony Ferraris is a Chicagoan through and through. While the core cast helps him with his acting, he gives them tips to make the local characters more convincing.

First Responder and ‘Chicago Fire’ Star Anthony Ferraris Says Show Accurately Depicts Life in a Firehouse

Accuracy isn’t always at a premium when it comes to Hollywood. But from its reliance on a veteran firefighting consultant to the casting of actual firefighters, Chicago Fire has tried its best to give fans an authentic look into the lives of these first responders.

“We have a very dangerous job, and we’re very tight when that bell rings. But when we’re at the firehouse, we’re busting on each other and giving each other a hard time. We golf together; we do a lot of things together. I think it translates onto the screen, and it’s pretty realistic of life at work. When you live with somebody for 24 hours, you’ll learn a lot about them, and you do that for 88 days a year. It’s your second family,” Ferraris told Wolf Entertainment.