Derek Haas Talks New NBC Firefighter Drama 'Chicago Fire'

Screen Rant interviews Executive Producer Derek Haas to talk about 'Chicago Fire,' a new firefighting drama on NBC.

NBC recently announced its new fall lineup and one of the shows to receive a full series order was the firefighter drama Chicago Fire. The show, which comes from the creative minds of Derek Haas and Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma, Wanted), follows the men and women of one Chicago firehouse as they risk their own lives to save others.

Chicago Fire features a large ensemble cast led by Jesse Spencer (House) and Taylor Kinney (The Vampire Diaries), and the team behind the project is equally impressive. In addition to Haas and Brandt, NBC mainstay Dick Wolf (Law and Order) will serve as Executive Producer on the show through his Wolf Films production company.

To learn more about Chicago Fire, Screen Rant reached out to Derek Haas to talk about the show, as well as some of his other upcoming projects (like Wanted 2). Check out our interview with Derek below, but first, watch this video for an extended preview of the show.


SR: What is Chicago Fire all about?

DH: Hey, thanks for having me on your site again.  CHICAGO FIRE is about the heroic men and women in Firehouse 51 inside the Chicago Fire Department.  It tracks their lives both inside and outside the house and is really about a family of disparate personalities who put everything aside when they are called into action to protect and save the lives of citizens.  We have an incredible cast, a big ensemble. We've been calling it "ER in a firehouse" since Day One.

Why did you and Michael decide to develop a series like this?

We went to Chicago and embedded in a few firehouses around the city and filled notebooks with stories.  We came away from it thinking that these guys and gals are true heroes... and became hooked on the question of: what kind of a man or woman runs into a building that rats and roaches are running out of?  As primarily feature writers, we were also attracted to a story that wouldn't wrap up so nicely in a 100-minute box.  We started to look at is a novel instead of a short story.  We've only written chapter one and are very excited to continue writing it.

Why Chicago? You know, the Windy City and fire don't exactly have a happy history, right?

You actually hit the nail on the head:  the history of the city is interwoven with and even borne out of fire.  The two are linked and the CFD has a very proud and rich tradition.  On top of that, the city has so many things that will make the show exciting:  the river, the lake, the high-rises, the neighborhoods, the weather.  It is a very cinematic city and you'll see that on the show.

Chicago Fire - New show on NBC

What's it been like working with TV legend Dick Wolf and Wolf Films on this project?

Michael and I have easily had the most satisfying creative experience of our professional lives.  Dick puts storytelling first... and has been incredibly supportive of the project from the first day we met him.  He's a hell of a writer himself, and his instincts for what makes great drama are exceptional.  Along with Dick, Peter Jankowski and Danielle Gelber from Wolf Films have gone in the trenches with us to make a great show.  We feel very lucky that our first TV experience was with them.

Will there be a procedural element to the series, i.e. arson investigations and crime stories? Or is it more of an action-driven series, with lots of firefighting?

It's going to be as much a drama about a family as anything.  Character has to drive the action, not the other way around.  We want you to be invested in these lives, and want you to return each week not to see who they'll rescue, but to see how they deal with their everyday lives while doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  It will never be a fire-of-the-week show... it will be a great ensemble like ER or HILL STREET or NYPD BLUE.

You've already shot the pilot in Chicago and plan to continue filming there. What has that experience been like and what has the response been from the real-life Chicago Fire Department to the show?

As I said, you couldn't pick a more cinematic city.  And the CFD has been insanely supportive.  We simply couldn't have done the show without them, and we hope they'll be as invested in the series as we are.  I hope they'll look at the series and say, "okay, that's authentic."  If so, we did it right.

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Shifting focus - what's the status of Wanted 2? The last time we talked about it was back in October of last year.

WANTED 2 is moving along.  I know Universal wants to make the movie.  I think the script will surprise a lot of people and the fans of the original will be happy.  Ask me again in October.

One last question, what's happening on the novel front?

My three silver bear books are actually being bundled into one book, called THE ASSASSIN TRILOGY, and will be out as an e-book right before Father's Day.  I think they're going to sell it for 99 cents to get as many readers as humanly possible to read it before my next book comes out in November.  The NY TIMES called the series "devastatingly cool," which made me fall out of my chair.

Okay, then, one more.  What's the new novel?

It is a spy-thriller called THE RIGHT HAND and will be out in November.  It's not a silver bear book... I'm very excited to introduce this new character.  He's a man the CIA sends in when they want no knowledge of his methods and will deny his existence if he's caught... the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.  He's the Right Hand.  It's cool... I think readers will dig it.

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