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Dave Castellanos' Moving LA Fire & Rescue Story Is Just Like This Chicago Fire Moment
The rookie's fellow firefighters rallied around him at his most vulnerable moment — which is just what happened to this Chicago Fire character.
NBC's highly-anticipated docuseries LA Fire & Rescue premiered on Wednesday, June 21, and fans of Chicago Fire are going to love it. Tune in to just one episode, and you'll see the similarities between the shows. While Chicago Fire is obviously fictional, it's clear from watching LA Fire & Rescue that so much of what we watch Firehouse 51 endure is rooted in reality.
On LA Fire & Rescue, viewers are given an in-depth look into the heart-pumping, real cases that the Los Angeles County Fire Department deals with every day. How these real-life heroes approach their work will seem familiar to anyone who's seen Chicago Fire. The empathy the firefighters bring to each case is awe-inspiring and has shades of what Stella (Miranda Rae Mayo) and the gang display from episode to episode. These firefighters sit around their houses and eat together like the 51 crew does — typically with one person designated as the chef. Each house has a set of rookies who need to prove themselves to the senior firefighters, much like what we saw Carver (Jake Lockett) do on Chicago Fire. But the most important similarity between the shows is both present the firehouses as family units. These are homes away from homes, and everyone truly looks out for each other.
This is perhaps best represented on LA Fire & Rescue through Dave Castellanos' emotional story. In his most vulnerable hour, the Station 8 (West Hollywood) newbie had his co-workers rally around him — and it was very similar to a Season 11 Chicago Fire storyline. Read more, below.
Dave Castellanos on LA Fire & Rescue: his moving story
All Castellanos ever wanted was to be a firefighter, and he achieved that dream. Before becoming an official member of the Station 8 team, though, rookies have to go through probation, a training period that lasts one year. In Castellanos' case, probation took three years.
That's because a few months into probation, he was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer — at 29 years old. And the cancer had spread to both his lungs and abdomen.
During his treatment, so he could stay on his insurance plan, Castellanos' Station 8 family picked up his shifts for him. "You hear about the family that the fire service has, how we all look out for one another, but to experience it so early on into my career, it's mind-blowing," Castellanos said in the episode.
The way Station 8 steps up for Castellanos is very similar to how Firehouse 51 steps up for Herrmann (David Eigenberg) when his wife, Cindy (Robyn Coffin), is diagnosed with lung cancer in Season 11. While Cindy ultimately beats the illness, the path there was harrowing, and 51 was with the Herrmanns every step of the way. Whether that was Boden (Eamonn Walker) showing up to the hospital to comfort Herrmann during Cindy's initial surgery or Ritter (Daniel Kyri) being a shoulder to cry on for him at one point during a shift, 51 was strong for Herrmann when he couldn't be. And that's exactly what Station 8 was for Castellanos.
Thankfully, there's a beautiful punctuation mark to Castellanos' tough journey. At the end of LA Fire & Rescue Episode 1, Station 8 gathers to celebrate the end of Castellanos' three-year probation. He's finally becoming a full-time firefighter, and everyone is happy for him — and emotional.
"They didn't write me off," Castellanos said. "I came back [to work after cancer treatment] very nervous. I didn't know if my body was 'gonna be able to handle it. They were there step by step and provided a lot of guidance and built up my confidence and never really gave up on me. And I wasn't 'gonna give up myself."
During the party for Castellanos, the Station 8 captain, Jarson Cardenas, got teary-eyed talking about the young firefighter's health struggles and resilience. "Dave is a freaking warrior," Cardenas said. "A lot was weighing on him. You'll always be a part of 8's fire family and always be loved."
Castellanos himself couldn't help but cry himself, too. "I thought I had a big family, but it became an even bigger family, because everyone here [at Station 8] I consider a family member. Getting diagnosed with cancer, I was lost, I was scared, and these guys who had only known me for a few months worked for me so I continue to have health benefits so I could be treated. I can't express how grateful I am for that, because it means the world to me."
This is just one of many beautifully human stories you'll see highlighted on LA Fire & Rescue this season. Keep watching Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC (and next day on Peacock) to learn more about these real-life heroes — who Chicago Fire's been honoring for 11 seasons.