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'Chicago Fire' star surprises Clayton County firefighters

1:00 PM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -- The NBC prime time show "Chicago Fire" captures the essence of life as a firefighter.

That's according to the experts -- real Clayton County firefighters.

"The language, camaraderie, even the things on call -- it's like, are they actors or real life firemen?" firefighter Antonio Merkersen said.

But more than being in love with the show, Clayton County's firefighters are in love with the profession.

"The brotherhood, camaraderie is a neat thing, and you get to chase fire and help people," Jeff Maday said.

Maday is a couple months shy of his one-year anniversary with the department, but claims he's not like the rookie on "Chicago Fire."

"I think I'm a lot better than Peter is!" he joked.

Little did Maday know that he was about to meet the actor who plays rookie Peter. Charlie Barnett had just arrived at the firehouse during a special preview of the latest "Chicago Fire" episode.

Barnett, a Julliard-trained actor, signed autographs, smiled for a sea of photos and met with the chief and captain, who are also fans of the show.

He was comfortable with the crew because, not only did he train with real Chicago firefighters, he regularly interacts with them when shooting "Chicago Fire."

"Some of the firefighters on the set who are now getting lines are real firefighters," Barnett said. "Almost everyone you see is a real cop, real firefighters, real rescue squad, real paramedic."

And through it all, the 25 year old now has the utmost respect for the profession.

"It really is the most selfless," Barnett said. "They're there to risk their lives to help you. That's the epitome of a hero to me."

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