If you aren’t watching the new show on NBC called Chicago Fire you should be. The show has a great pedigree it comes from Dick Wolf of Law and order fame and a friend Derek Hass. I don’t give it a strong recommend because I know some of the people involved, but rather because it is serving an educational roll in my opinion.
After the first episode my sister called me. She was nearly in tears after having watched the show. She told me that the show had given her so much insight into my 31 year career, that she was truly affected by what she had seen.
I had watched the first episode as well and had found it to be very well written and it portrayed firefighters and the job very accurately. I emailed Derek and complimented on a job well done. He thanked me and also told me that it seemed I was in a very small minority of firefighters that felt that way.
He had found that a huge number of firefighters were objecting to the way the show was being done. It wasn’t true to the job, it was overly dramatic. Here are some quotes from the comments section following the first episode.
“BAD, SUCKS, AND WASTE OF TIME!”
“The advisers might have their hands tied because some over dramatic producer wants it to be more of a night time soap than a true rescue show and if that's the case, they should walk off the job now.”
“I know that the show is going after young viewers but on any professional fire dept. they make us shave at every shift. So why do the main characters both Lieutenants of their respective companies not have to be clean shaven? Come on!!
Also, It would be extremely rare to see a 30-something Captain/Lieutenant of a big city fire department's Rescue company? Rescue companies are the best of the best and the only ones recruited onto the rescue companies are those that have spent years on busy truck and engine companies within the city. Thus making a 30-something leader of Chicago's Rescue 3 hard to believe.
Another miss on the technical advisers that this show is using is, With all of the sexual harassment policies that we as fire fighters have to go through with female & male firefighters working together, there is no way you would have a female in the locker room and shower area along with male firefighters walking around in just their towels.. Wrong Wrong!!”
“I'm with you Cap'n. Been in the service for 21 years and found little reality in this whatsoever. I realize Hollywood has to get their dirty little fingers in the drama of it all, but the demographic that would watch this show (firefighters/EMT's) should be very disappointed.”
I could go on for another dozen pages, but I won’t. Maybe I have a different perspective because of my background in writing screenplays and for television. I understand the compromises that have to be made to pull off a show like Chicago Fire. The idea is to tell a compelling story about a very difficult profession.
Because we firefighters live it on a daily basis we watch a show like this and nitpick it to pieces. I get that it isn’t 100% accurate of what we do and how we do it. But do you think police officers watch cop shows and agree with them? Do you think doctors watch doc shows and say oh yeah that’s how we do it or lawyers and so on and so on?
Of course it can’t be totally accurate, do you think filming in a real fire would render any useable images? Of course not you can’t see a stinking thing in there as we well know. But give this show a break over all they are doing a good job of portraying our profession.
If you knew how many times I heard a Chief yell “Casey in my office now.” You would be amazed. I delivered nine babies in my career I was a drunk and abused pain killers due to a shoulder injury while on duty. I carried dead people out of buildings and got caught in flashovers and went out the window not in it. I fell through floors and had my brothers pull me out.
I short I have experienced most of what is being portrayed on Chicago Fire first hand. Now it took over 30 years to rack up those stats they didn’t all happen in the first week I was on the job.
So my brothers and sisters in the profession relax a little. Over all this show is showing us pretty much as we are, with warts and problems. If you have been on the job for more than ten years you can’t honestly tell me you haven’t seen everything on this show in one form or another.
Remember the compromises Chicago Fire makes is for the sake of storytelling, they respect us and honor us as best they can. I have seen interviews with the cast and the way they admire real firefighters is touching, they want to show as we are. But you don’t hire people that look like these people and not show them off.
So they don’t shave and walk around with their shirts off, oh no one of the women is a lesbian (Trust me I worked with a lot of lesbians and they were good firefighters) how cliché, the Chief runs on every call never happens.
But they way they show life in the house is pretty accurate in my opinion. The show will get better I believe and it is. It does no harm they don’t lie about us at least not in my opinion.
So here’s to Chicago Fire, the cast the crew, the producers and the fans I like this show and I must admit it makes me miss a job I loved so much, so give them a chance, not every firefighting show can be Rescue Me.
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