One of the Firehouse 51 family is gone when Chicago Fire returns for its third season. In last May's cliffhanger, just-married Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) watched as a burning building collapsed with his entire team — truck, rescue squad, and ambulance — inside. Who made it out alive? "Many were seriously injured, one critically," confirms Jesse Spencer, who plays Lt. Matthew Casey. "It's a very difficult time for everyone, and that will continue for quite a while." Spencer shares the pain (though not the identity of who doesn't make it) with us.
TV Guide Magazine: Casey's fiancée, paramedic-turned-probie firefighter Gabby Dawson (Monica Raymund), was among the trapped. Producers confirmed they both survive, but how does this event affect their relationship?
Spencer: Casey doesn't want her to be running into burning buildings, but he wants her to fulfill her dreams. So it's a tough spot for him. And for them as a couple.
TV Guide Magazine: How about their plans for a quick wedding?
Spencer: The circumstances wouldn't allow it now. If she goes to another firehouse, then Casey can't keep an eye on her. And if she stays with Truck 51, they can't get married because it's against the rules.
TV Guide Magazine: They are so star-crossed!
Spencer: [Laughs] Well, since the house is now short-staffed, she gets to stay. He worries about her safety, so he drills her more than anyone else. He won't give her any favors, absolutely not.
TV Guide Magazine: As a leader, how does the lieutenant deal with his team's loss?
Spencer: It's his job not only to protect his men when they're inside a building, but also to make sure they're coping emotionally when things go wrong. That's good for Casey as well, because putting his concern into his men rather than himself helps him cope.
TV Guide Magazine: How is Casey's pal Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) holding up? Does he fall back into his old self-destructive ways?
Spencer: Severide definitely needs the firehouse to keep him out of trouble. In fact, it's a touch-and-go situation with pretty much everyone. We'll show how members of firehouses get help after such disasters.
TV Guide Magazine: The tragedy reminds viewers of the ever-present risk for first responders, doesn't it?
Spencer: There are fewer deaths than there used to be on the job, but all the firefighters [who serve as consultants] on our set have lost people. The 100 Club of Chicago is a great charity we do events for that helps the families of fallen firefighters and police officers. Being involved informs our characters and how we play these heroes.
Chicago Fire returns Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c on NBC.