When Chicago Fire premiered in 2012 no one could have guessed that it would spawn two more shows down the line – Chicago PD (2014) and Chicago Med (2015).
Fast forward to 2016 and the three shows in the Chicago franchise have produced over 150 episodes and employed 5,000 actors thus far.
What’s more, the universe is set to expand even further with talk of one more drama joining the ranks.
It all started with the men and women – firefighters, Rescue Squad and paramedics – of Chicago Firehouse 51.
“We didn’t want to do a fire or case of the week procedural show,” says executive producer Derek Haas.
“We wanted to do an ensemble show with 10 characters and you get in their lives. It came out of the fact that when the fire department goes on a call, they don’t know what they are rolling up to. You get there and you have to react.”
By S4, the number of cast members grew to 11. Joining the show this season is Steven R. McQueen.
The former Vampire Diaries star plays Jimmy Borelli, the new candidate at the firehouse.
“In the Vampire Diaries supernatural world, you have to imagine seeing stuff, whereas on Chicago Fire, you walk in on a stunt day and there’s actually a car on fire. You have to use an axe to get through a door. It’s been nice living in a world of reality,” reveals the 25-year-old actor about working on such different shows.
McQueen says everyone on Chicago Fire has been so welcoming and he has been working hard to find where he fits in.
“When I first started, I went to a couple of firehouses and I asked them what their experience is like going into a fire and they all gave an answer that was surprisingly similar,” he explains.
“They all said they saw this group of people working together to accomplish this goal, almost like a clock. A bunch of gears moving towards one goal.
“As a candidate, you have to find your place. You have to become a gear and you have to help to accomplish this goal otherwise you are not part of the team. So that’s kind of been my journey as a candidate.”
As much as the actors immerse themselves in the world of first responders, they are under no illusions that it is something they could do in real life.
“You can wear the equipment and you can go through the steps but at the end of the day, there is a certain thing that you have in your backbone to run into a burning building,” explains Joe Minoso, who plays firefighter Joe Cruz.
“These men and women do it selflessly and solely with the intention of saving another life. Kelly Severide (played by Taylor Kinney) may look better in a fire suit but the guys who are actually doing it are the ones you want.”