Chicago Fire – Welcome to House 51 – Part 1

Here at The Champ Box we’ve been rather taken by Chicago Fire so we will be posting weekly recaps once season 2 commences on September 24.  As an introduction to the show, we thought we’d present the key players to you and sum up the main storylines from season 1. *SPOILER ALERT* This recap contains information about the entire season including the action in the finale and storylines that have been set up for season 2.

season 1 dvd

Chicago Fire is a Dick Wolf production.  I’ve been a long time fan of the Law and Order franchise so I had an idea of what to expect from a show in his stable.  And I think it delivers – it’s well written and trust me, you’ll grow to care about the characters as they are so darn likeable and well, authentic. Being a Dick Wolf show, not everything ends happily and there are lots of heart string moments 🙂  and some pretty cool rescues (and I am a rescue geek so I love this aspect of the show).  Steph pretty much said the same on her blog (#hivemind!) when she posted an introduction to the show earlier in the year.  Check it out here.

The action centres on Fire House 51 which is a rather special House because it has a squad of firefighters (Truck 81 or ‘Truck’) and a rescue squad (Rescue 3, or ‘Squad’) and paramedics (Ambulance 61).  This is quite interesting to me because I am a rescue geek and in Australia, our paramedics work out of the hospitals and we have police rescue squads as well.  Anyway, the show explores the personal and professional lives of the team at House 51 and there’s drama aplenty with this large ensemble cast.  They have each other’s backs and operate as a family but just like any family, there is conflict.  There’s some rivalry between the two squads as Rescue Squad is the more elite of the two – these firefighters focus mostly on tricky rescues and get to use awesome tools like the ’jaws of life’ and the sawzall.


The team at House 51 is headed up by Battalion 25 Chief, Wallace Boden.  This man is so awesome we call him CA, for Chief Awesome.  He’s played by British actor, Eamonn Walker, who has a deep, serious voice and, as Alicia has said to me, he has a little trouble enunciating his words sometimes.  But what we can make out, we think is pretty darn awesome.  CA has been around forever and he has the scars to prove it.  He’s a terrific example of a great leader – he is entirely dedicated to his team and he has absolutely earned their loyalty and respect. He makes tough decisions sometimes but lives by the ethos “leaders lead from the front.”  There are too many examples of his awesomeness to mention; just trust us when we say that he’s a wonderful leader and the glue that holds the House together.


The fire fighting squad, Truck 81, is headed up by Lieutenant Matthew Casey, played by Jesse Spencer.  Look, little Billy Kennedy is all growed up!  I’m chuffed that an Australian actor whom I first saw on television when he was a teenager has a lead role in this show.  I agree with Steph’s observation on her blog about the Australian accent – I reckon Jesse sounds like he’d much rather be speaking Oz. Like me! Matt has a strong moral compass and is seriously dedicated to his job.  His Serious Face is a sight to behold and he brings it out regularly. He’s a CA in the making for sure.  There’s some rivalry between Casey and the head of the Rescue Squad but it’s not over-egged and I think better that the writers don’t go down the bromance route with these two characters anyway as there are plenty of other strong partnerships on the show.


Here is Casey’s truck team:


The most experienced firefighter is Christopher Herrmann, played by David Eigenberg.  Herrmann’s the family man of the House, with five children and counting by the end of the season.  Herrmann is totally competent on the job but hopeless with financial decisions in his personal life and he always comes up short in his ‘get rich quick’ schemes.  His father and brother run a successful business but Herrmann seems to have missed out on the financial nous gene.  But he’s so adorable even if he’s grumpy most of the time.

Mr Man

There’s a candidate in the fire fighting squad, Peter Mills (played by Charlie Barnett).  Mills is young and enthusiastic and he has Rescue Squad aspirations, to follow in the footsteps of his father who served with CA and the current Rescue Squad lieutenant’s father, but was tragically killed in the line of duty when Mills was young.  His mother and sister run a diner and his mother would much rather her son work there than risk his life as a firefighter.  He’s dead keen to improve himself and he’s clearly got the chops for it, he’s just a bit petulant and immature at times.


Brian Zvonecek, played by Yuri Sardarov, was the previous candidate and he’s now been promoted to the lifts, hence the nickname Otis.  Otis is smart and funny but often feels overlooked and unappreciated by his fellow firefighters.  He is of Russian descent and his cousin, Zoya, is introduced later in the season and I believe she will be back for season 2.  He comes from a family of doctors but has always wanted to be a firefighter.  He’s the joker of the House but also has a serious side, witnessed in the podcasts he creates about the life of a firefighter.  He spends some time relieving at another fire house where he feels more valued and considers transferring there until he is convinced to stay put.  I’m glad because he’s a good character and the writers gave him a greater role around the middle of the season when he entered into a business partnership with two of his colleagues.


Randy McHolland, played by Christian Stolte, is another of the experienced firefighters in Casey’s squad.  I actually had to look up this character’s name because he’s only ever called Mouch – as in part man, part couch.  Mouch has a special spot on the couch and spends his non-fire fighting time eating and watching television.  He’s a bit of a dinosaur and a bumbler but he’s kind and often surprises everyone with his unique solutions to problems.  He’s the House’s Union rep and is involved in helping out several members of the team when they face disciplinary action.  For most of the season he is involved in an online relationship with a mystery Japanese woman but she arrives in the finale and she’s totes adorable.  I hope this isn’t a scam!


Joe Minoso plays Joe Cruz who is Truck’s resident driver.  He’s the most peripheral of the main characters although we do know that he’s come from a troubled background and his brother has been involved with gangs.  He’s part of one of the main arcs of the season involving a decision he makes to protect his brother.  See Part 2 for more on this.


Rescue Squad 3 is led by Lieutenant Kelly Severide, played by Taylor Kinney, whom we have taken to calling HHF, for Handsome Heroic Firefighter, partly because Severide sounds way too much like Severus Snape and partly because HE IS handsome and heroic. Severide is my favourite character and not just because he’s a wonder of nature (the scruff, the greys, the beautiful eyes and the tooth-gap smile – sigh). He’s the best bad boy with a heart of gold on television right now.  He has charisma in spades, is strong and good at his job, and he’s at his best when helping little old ladies.  He’s a bit of a player but at the same time, he’s kind and generous and an all round decent guy.  Check out that faaaaaace!

HHF collage

The other members of Rescue Squad are very much peripheral characters.  There’s Capp and Hadley (as shown in the picture below with HHF).  Hadley was transferred late in the season after he took joke-playing on Candidate Mills too far.  And then there was poor Vargas to spent 10 years trying to make Rescue Squad and once he did, was injured on the job and had to retire.

Rescue squadVargas

The paramedics of Ambulance 61 are both women and they are total BAMFs and generally great examples of strong female characters on television.  I love these two!  Leslie Shay is played by Lauren German and she does a great job with the role and I’m happy for her after all that she had to put up with on H50.  Shay is responsible for two of the finest partnerships on the show.  She’s paramedic partner and friend to Gabriela Dawson, played by the stunning Monica Raymund, and these two had some of the best scenes together of the season.  Shay is the snark-with-heart and Dawson is the career-oriented-fierce-but-flawed one although they are both passionate about their jobs and their friendship.  They are called to some extremely distressing incidents and they work well together as a team, showing strength and compassion for the people they help and a sense of humour when the occasion calls for it.

S and D collage

Shay is a lesbian and part of the other partnership of the show that intrigues me – her friendship with HHF.  They are flatmates and besties and stick together through thick and thin although Shay’s tough enough to call HHF out on his sh*t when needed.  HHF says at one point that Shay is the only person he trusts.  He’s not afraid to show his affection for her and the two of them are a joy to watch.

S and S collage

Honourable mentions:

Honourable mention number 1 is Antonio Dawson, Gaby’s brother and detective with the CPD, played by Jon Seda.  He will be in the spin- off series, Chicago PD.  He’s a total bad ass but he loves his sister to bits. In season 1, Antonio is shot during a drug investigation and Gaby, at great risk, finds the necessary information to put the drug guys away.  Antonio tells her how proud he is to be her brother *sniff*.

Antonio collage

Sergeant Hank Voight, played brilliantly by Jason Beghe, is also going to be in the spin-off series. Voight was a dirty cop who harassed Casey and his girlfriend at the start of the season but later becomes Antonio’s boss in the Intelligence Unit.  I love this character – there’s something charismatic about Jason Beghe with his gravelly voice and the twinkle in his eye.  I know that he’s been a dirty cop but I can’t help but like him.  He respects both Dawsons and you have to give him props for that.


Robyn Coffin plays Herrmann’s wife, Cindy, and she deserves a mention as she’s just plain awesome and knows what it takes to be a firefighter’s wife.  She supports Herrmann though his failed business ventures and is considered part of the House 51 family.


Now that you have been introduced to the main players, let’s summarise the key story arcs from season 1 – on to Part 2!



  1. I’m first!!!

    Yay, Champ Boxers! Thanks for filing this wee report, because I have plugged Chicago Fire into my DVR and I am ready to go, but I will *never* find the time to watch all of S1. I am grateful for the info.

    I love grey hairs and HHsF, I like Lauren German and I come from a family of firefighters. I can’t wait!

    Also, I am grateful for the Aussie-isms, like chuffed and when you put an -s in the oddest places (sumarise, eg.). But mostly I loved that you called it a tooth-gap smile. We call it a gap-tooth smile. Hee.

    Love to you all!

    1. Man, that was quick!

      HHF is lovely indeed and Lauren is fab in this show. As for the tooth-gap, that may just be me and my flu-riddled brain as I’m not really sure what I’d call it, actually. Semantics aside, it’s adorable!

      I typed the posts up (all 5000 words!) in Word using UK/Australian English even though WordPress didn’t like it. I hope we can still be friends, though, despite the red squiggly lines everywhere in the draft version.

      Sooooo looking forward to S2. Glad you will be joining us as we look forward to your input *hugs*.

      1. My computer spell checks everything. It’s infuriating and I must find out how to switch it off. Although it can be amusing, when I type ‘Eamonn’ (as I did on Steph’s blog earlier when talking about the Chief) it wants to change it to Moonbeam. I almost want to let it.

        1. LOL! Actually, I think the two ChiFire posts will have a mixture of UK and American English because the original I typed up in (UK) Word and then made revisions in (US)WordPress 🙂 . To be honest, I’m a bit surprised WordPress doesn’t go all WTF? when I use Ozspeak. But perhaps it’s getting used to me.

        2. kind of actually in love with Chief Moonbeam. Oh MAN.

            1. I think I’m kind of in love with other characters, too, although Chief Moonbeam is up there on my list. Show, you’re killing me!

  2. Looking forward to the second post (I’ll read it as soon as I’ve posted this).
    I think that you have made a very good presentation of the main characters (I have actually seen this series, except for the final ep of S1 (due to scheduling and other engagements)) , and am in total agreement that Loren German is amazing in this show (not sure that I have seen her more than in H50 and here).

    1. Oops, I read your comment on part 2 first. Thanks, I’m glad you like the character bios. There’s something about these people that really has me drawn into the show. I hope you can see the finale soon.

      I’d never seen Lauren in anything before H50 but I am so glad she has found a home on ChiFire. She’s fantastic as Shay and she gets to be in close proximity to HHF all the time. Winning!

  3. I had no idea what Mouch’s name was either! And I keep forgetting that Otis is not really called Otis. He just doesn’t look like a Brian to me.

    Oh where to start… I love so many of these characters but I think my favourite is Dawson, I just adore her and her feistiness. And the Chief and Shay. And then Casey and Severide (I know, shocking! so far down the list!).

    I love Voight as well. I can’t work out whether he was bad in the beginning or whether he’s been on the level all along but he has something about him that’s appealing. He’s got that twinkle in his eye that makes you think he’d just be ALL kinds of fun ;-).

    1. Otis definitely looks like an Otis. His real name is Yuri. Awesome.

      Dawson’s fierce and I love that about her. That scene where she boots that bloke out of the ambulance (featured in my fav moments in part 2) is pure Dawson gold. And the snake. And when she went into bat for her brother. Sigh.

      HHF so far down the list?? What? (Kidding). The characters you have mentioned are my favs too although I’m not sure what order I’d put them in.

      There is something about Voight that is hugely appealing. His gravelly voice and the twinkle, as you say. And his face – he’s quite menacing really but it’s done in such an understated way. It’s like, “I am bad ass just because I am”. I’m not sure whether he was pretending to be dirty from the get go either. I figured it was a deal done to get him out of prison but who knows.

      1. I can’t make up my mind on that one. At the end of the CPD ep, when he was having the shadowy car meeting, he didn’t seem reluctant at all. And when Dawson visited him in prison, I really got the impression that he admired and respected her and that he was trying to warn her about the danger of what she was asking. But then, at the beginning of the season, he was SO bad. I just don’t know! But I love him anyway, he’s a great character.

        Dawson in the ambulance was awesome, and also at the end of the season when the ambulance was stolen and she managed to outwit the guy who was driving it, and then went back to Shay all ‘anyone call an ambulance?’ with her elbow out of the window. Love!

        1. I think he seems different at the end to the bad-ness of the beginning, when he was harassing Casey. I do think he’s done a deal to get out of prison but perhaps we’ll never know. I love him anyway too. When he said ‘boo’ to Dawson in 1.23, I totally melted.

          Yeah, when the ambulance was stolen, Dawson was fantastic. Shay had some awesome moments too, mostly involving a taser. That Shay!

          1. I find it amusing that our crush for Chicago PD is probably supposed to be Jim Barnes but…. nope, we’re all about Voight!

            Shay usually gets the best lines too #love.

            1. Hehe, I hardly even noticed Jim Barnes because my heart belongs to Voight #love.

  4. Ok, I just watched the pilot and ep 2. I like it! I’ve finished crying now after Severide took the video of the guy who died in the building collapse, and showed it to his wife. These kind of shows always make me cry, I imagine I’ll be doing more of it throughout the rest of the eps.

    I was going to give S1 a miss and just read the recap then start watching S2, but I want to watch all of it now!

    And Casey – I didn’t like him that much in House, but he’s all growed up now and much more interesting.

    I want to get rid of Halle and want Casey and Dawson to

    1. Don’t.hold.your.breath. *stamps foot*

      OMG, episode 2 nearly made me dissolve! That was one of the worst ones, but wait until you get to ep 19 *howl*.

    2. Glad you like it *fist bump*. As Alicia said, keep your tissues handy as there’s more to come. Episode 2 is still one of my favs though. I think that’s where I fell for Show and for Severide hook, line and sinker.

      I was never much of a fan of House but it’s nice to see Billy Kennedy all growed up now. I can’t help but see Billy Kennedy every time Casey is on screen but I do love the Casey character.

      And, yes, the writers are doing some serious stringing out of the Casey-Dawson thing…

  5. I have four days off – do you think I can get through S1? I’m going to give it a damn good try 🙂

    1. I reckon you can – it’s only five or so a day! (which sounds a lot, but you wouldn’t be needing to take notes or comment on them afterwards, so… go for it!).

    2. Too right, mate!

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