Kenneth Choi as Chimney in 9-1-1
Credit: Getty Images

Ever since the start of 9-1-1, everyone in Station 118 has referred to firefighter/paramedic Howard Han by his nickname, “Chimney.” But why is Chimney called Chimney on 9-1-1? We’re diving into the meaning behind his nickname, below.

9-1-1 is FOX’s popular TV series that follows firefighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel at the Los Angeles Fire Department’s fictional Station 118 in Los Angeles, California. The show is currently in its sixth season and has not yet been renewed or canceled for Season 7. Actor Kenneth Choi plays Howard “Chimney” Han, the firefighter paramedic assigned to Station 118. He’s portrayed Chimney since the first season debuted in January 2018. The show also stars Angela Basset, Peter Krause, Oliver Stark, Aisha Hinds, Jennifer Love Hewitt and more.

Chimney and Maggie Buckley in 9-1-1

His character is currently dating Maggie Buckley (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a 9-1-1 dispatcher and the older sister of firefighter Evan “Buck” Buckley. Chimney and Buckley have one child together, Jee-Yun (Hewitt was actually pregnant in real life while filming). In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in April 2023, Choi opened up about Chimney and Maggie’s romance, which has had its many ups and downs since they got together in Season 2. “I owe everything to her because it’s given me so much to do as an actor,” Choi says of his costar Hewitt. “They’ve gone through so many trials and tribulations throughout their relationship, and to play all of those kinds of conflicts, for an actor, it’s such a joy.”

He also teased whether an engagement is on the way for his Maggie and Chimney. “I think Chimney and Maddie are two people who are a little wary of pulling the trigger and making really big life decisions, and this inciting incident is going to force both of their hands,” Choi says. “So I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the writers love to throw a lot of conflict their way.”

Wondering how Howard Han got the nickname “Chimney” on 9-1-1? Keep reading to find out.

Why is Chimney called Chimney on 9-1-1?

Kenneth Choi as Chimney in 9-1-1

Why is Chimney called Chimney on 9-1-1? There hasn’t been an explicit explanation on 9-1-1 about where “Chimney” comes from, but Choi has his own theory about where the name originated. “I have my own back story of why he is called Chimney, and I believe it’s the same back story that was created by the original creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear,” the actor told Hello! Magazine in April 2023.

He continued: “They’ve never told me for sure but there was an iteration of this character before I came on board, and originally Chimney was conceived as a Latino man and there is a specific reason for why he was called Chimney. I was told that reason because they told me, ‘We want Chim to be the comedic character,’” he explained. “I’ve taken that on and, without divulging what it is, some of my behaviors and actions as Chimney could tell somebody who’s watching very closely, ‘Oh, this is why he was called Chimney.'”

The actor also revealed that he has left breadcrumbs about his nickname that nobody has seemed to pick up on. “It’s a thing that I imbued in Chimney that if you watch carefully you can lead yourself to realize. I’ve left breadcrumbs — but nobody has ever picked them up,” he said. Before Choi’s interview, Reddit users theorized their own reasons about where the name “Chimney” came from. One person wrote, “I’m thinking maybe he got stuck in a chimney one time and now they tease him about it.” While another person suggested that he was named “Chim” because he can get into small spaces. “A lot of episode storylines are based on actual events. There have been a lot of incidents where idiots/crooks/pranksters have gotten stuck in chimneys and with chim being so small he would be most apt to get into tight spaces for rescues,” the user wrote. Unless we get a confirmed answer from one of the creators of 9-1-1, we’re going to have to believe Choi’s comedic theory. 

In Season 6, Episode 14, which aired on April 17, 2023, Chimney was sent back to the academy after it was suggested by Captain Nash (Peter Krause) to get out of the “rut” he was in. Choi said he was initially confused when he read the script about why his character was being sent back, but then realized it was part of Chimney’s “full circle” moment. “I got to that point where he realized, ‘Oh this is why Cap sent me here,’ and it came full circle almost to that ‘Chimney Begins’ episode with all the trauma. I had no idea that this was something that was troubling Chim so it was also a wonderful ‘A-ha!’ moment for myself as an actor as well; it was a lovely thing to experience it as Chim was experiencing it,” the actor also told Hello! Magazine.

9-1-1 airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

For more on 9-1-1, check out the gallery below to see the 9-1-1 cast salaries per episode, from Angela Bassett to Oliver Stark!