Mouch on Chicago Fire and Bode on Fire Country
Credit: Getty Images

With the many firefighter dramas currently on TV, you’re likely wondering how the shows compare to the real-life situations that firefighters face. Well, one of your favorite shows may have poked fun that some firefighter shows are more accurate than others. Did Chicago Fire shade Fire Country? Keep reading to find out.

Chicago Fire is NBC’s first responder-centered drama series that spotlights the professional and personal lives of firefighters, rescue personnel and paramedics of the Chicago Fire Department’s fictional Firehouse 51. Produced by Dick Wolf, the show is currently in its 11th season and was recently renewed for Season 12 in April 2023, along with the other One Chicago shows, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med.

Meanwhile, Fire Country is CBS’ new firefighter drama that focuses on the firefighters at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (also known as Cal Fire), and the inmates who participate in the effort to reduce their prison time. Starring Max Thieriot, the show premiered in October 2022 and has phenomenal viewing numbers. Deadline reported in March 2023 that Fire Country is already a top 10 series on Paramount+ and joined CBS’ 10 million-plus viewers club.

So, is there drama between the two firefighter shows on NBC and CBS? We have the details, below.

Did Chicago Fire shade Fire Country?

Tony and Mouch on Chicago Fire

Did Chicago Fire shade Fire Country? In Season 11, Episode 20, “Never, Ever Make a Mistake,” Mouch (Christian Stolte) and Tony (Anthony Ferraris) are watching television in the firehouse. Mouch criticizes the firefighter show playing on the TV screen and says that the depiction of firefighters is not truthful.  “Come on! Some of these firefighter shows are a total crock,” Mouch said to Tony. “That guy had a beard. How you supposed to get a seal on a mask with a beard? Do they not care about the truth?” Tony then responds: “Tell ’em to call us. We’ll straighten ’em out.”

In real life, Tony Ferraris — who has played the character Tony since Season 1 of Chicago Fire — is a real fire firefighter with the Chicago Fire Department. He got involved with Chicago Fire when the Firefighter’s Union sent an email to firefighters that the show was looking for extras. “A friend of mine received an email from the firefighter’s union sayin the show was looking for extras. He asked me if I would go with him to the audition. I went in with him, and I guess they liked me,” Ferraris told Wolf Entertainment in 2020. “On the first day of filming, the crew realized nobody in the cast was able to drive squad. Steve Chikerotis, the show’s technical advisor, who I’ve known for years, asked me if I would drive. Then I said sure, and that’s pretty much how it all went down. I started as an extra and then [Chicago Fire showrunner] Derek Has approached me around Episode 5 or 6 to read for him, and then they started writing me in.”

It seems that Tony’s comment was targeting firefighter shows that don’t rely on the advice of professionals. After all, he’s previously said that the situations in Chicago Fire are true to what the firefighters in the CFD experience in real life. “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,” he also told Wolf Entertainment. “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.”

So, why do we think that the TV show shown in Chicago Fire was targeting Fire Country? The beard on the firefighter gives a clue that it could be referring to CBS’ freshman drama. (Viewers who watch Fire Country know that Max Thieriot, the show’s lead, has a beard.) Thieriot also created the show and is an executive producer, on top of his starring role.

Fire Country has received negative criticism from actual firefighters, specifically those from Cal Fire (The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection). According to The Los Angeles Times, Cal Fire’s director, Joe Tyler, wrote an email to the department in May after the show’s initial trailer was released. He called Fire Country “a misrepresentation of the professional all-hazards fire department and resource protection agency that Cal Fire is.” Tim Edwards, the president of Cal Fire’s union, Local 2881, also wrote a message of his own: “I want to emphasize that we were not involved in the creation or production of the show, and we do not endorse the series,” he wrote. We have spoken with our legal team, and we cannot prevent the series from airing or using the Cal Fire name.”

A firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service protects the Strawberry General Store on Highway 50 in El Dorado County after a backfire was set.

Meanwhile, Dick Wolf and NBC (the forces behind the One Chicago shows) announced in March 2023 it will be launching a new nonfiction series, LA Fire & Rescue, that will document the real-life stories of firefighters in the frontlines of the Los Angeles Country Fire Department. The LA-based docuseries will follow the passionate firefighters as they risk their lives to fight unpredictable dangers on the front lines. The series “will provide unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” according to NBC Insider. The department is responsible for protecting the lives and property of four million residents across 59 cities in Los Angeles County.

Chicago Fire airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

For more on Chicago Fire, check out our photo gallery of the most shocking deaths on the show that we’re still not over