‘Chicago Fire’ Scoop: Taylor Kinney And Jesse Spencer On Firefighter Training

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NBC clearly knew what type of eye candy to cast for its new series Chicago FireVampire Diaries alum Taylor Kinney and House star Jesse Spencer play Kelly Severide and Matthew Casey in the new show that centers on a firehouse crew trying to regroup after tragedy strikes. But that’s just the beginning. Kinney and Spencer have a playful competiveness that soon leads to an extreme rivalry as they both blame one another for a casuality. Chicago Fire premieres this Wednesday, and we’ve got the scoop on what it was like for the actors to train alongside real-life firefighters. During a recent conference call, the two actors also chatted about what shocked them most, and how filming on location in Chicago was the best route to go.

“I don’t know how these guys do it to be honest. They operate on a different level,” Spencer said about working with firefighters on set. “I think one of the best things is that they’re always on set as well…just having those guys around all the time really helps with the overall vibe of the cast, because they are always there and always mingling with them. They’re coming from a shift before, about to go to one the next day,” he added.

“We did ride-a-longs with the firefighters and some of the actresses got to ride with paramedics. So it enabled us to evolve with the character,” Kinney admitted. But the training isn’t what the two first expected. “I remember at the training facility at the Fire Academy, we put on all of our bunker gear, our air, masks, helmet, gloves and had a tool—maybe an axe. And we’d go through the motions of clearing a room in the event of a fire and whether or not it’s a floor below or above,” he described. “They say we’re going to walk into a smoked-full room to simulate a structure fire. And so you go through these motions in a parking lot on how to clear a room. You block it out and you say, ‘Fair enough. I think I can handle this.’ You have about 65 lbs. of gear and they throw you into a room filled with smoke and you can’t see anything. So it was a shock to the senses, and I couldn’t believe it. I think that was the most surprising thing—that these guys will walk into a situation like that and still have the (energy) to get a victim, or clear a room, or check underneath the bed when you can’t see anything. It’s very tough to breathe, and you only have maybe 10-15 minutes.”

Seeing the risks firefighters go through on a daily basis really did help both actors while developing their characters as well. “It put it in perspective,” Spencer added. “You just realize it’s not just a physical job. Its mental—you really have to control your fear and emotions, and that’s what these guys do.”

Working on location in Chicago also helped to stay focused. As Spencer pointed out, “I think it gives us a better chance, and I’ve found that a lot of jobs that run in the same boat on location like we are and it’s such a great city, thank God—people don’t know that many people here and so it gives us a lot more opportunity to get to a place, on a level, where we are much more comfortable and know each other much better than working in L.A. and later getting in a separate cars and separate lives.”

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