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Chicago Fire Executive Producer Reveals Everything About Where the Show Is Filmed

NBC Insider spoke with co-executive producer Demetra Diamantopoulos to get the scoop on filming locations.

By Jessica White

Whether it's a heart-racing rescue mission or a blazing inferno, it's never a dull day for the Chicago Fire cast and crew. 

How to Watch

Watch Chicago Fire on NBC and Peacock.

When Firehouse 51 gets a call on the show, it's all hands on deck as the dedicated firefighters go wherever the chaos leads them next. With 12 seasons and counting, Chicago Fire fans have seen fan favorites scale skyscrapers, jump from burning buildings, and pull off life-threatening rescues all beneath the sprawling Chicago skyline.

RELATED: What to Know About Chicago Fire Season 12

Many fans of the show will agree that, as a result, the city of Chicago is one of the best characters. 

NBC Insider chatted with Chicago Fire co-executive producer Demetra Diamantopoulos to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on Chicago Fire's filming locations. 

Three firetrucks parked inside a firehouse during Chicago Fire's 200th episode.

Where is Chicago Fire's Firehouse 51 filmed?

Firehouse 51 is inspired by the real-life Chicago Fire Department Engine 18.

Many Firehouse 51 scenes are filmed at Cinespace Film Studios — the studio that houses all three One Chicago series — but many interior and exterior Firehouse 51 scenes are filmed on-site at the local firehouse. Chicago Fire's production is very grateful for the engine's hospitality and support. 

"Engine 18 is our second home!" Diamantopoulos said. "We find ourselves filming there at least three days a month. The members of that house treat us well and we feel that they are part of the Chicago Fire family. It’s no easy task for them to make room for us and still meet the needs of the community they serve."

Jacksonville Fire Lt. Todd Warrick, Smokey the Labrador Retriever, and Taylor Kinney posing together in front of a firetruck.

Where are scenes at Molly's Pub on Chicago Fire filmed?

Molly's Pub, the beloved One Chicago watering hole, was initially filmed on-site at a bar called Lottie's in the Bucktown neighborhood during the series' early run.

"They were chosen, way back when, for their quintessential Chicago look, inside and out," Diamantopoulos said. "Bucktown is one of our favorite Chicago neighborhoods."

After Chicago Fire's success, Lottie's became a One Chicago tourist spot, leading production to recreate a Molly's on a stage at Cinespace to avoid disrupting the business. But, some moments outside of the bar still demand authenticity.

"While we have a stage set based on Lottie’s at our studio, we still film exteriors at the real Lottie’s from time to time," Diamantopoulos revealed. "As a matter of fact, we were there to film the last scene of Casey and Brett’s send-off." (That was in Season 12, Episode 6 ("Port in the Storm")).

Jimmy Borelli sitting across the bar and having a conversation with Christopher Herrmann.

How do Chicago Fire producers choose Chicago neighborhoods to film in?

Firehouse 51 saves civilians from all over, and Chicago is a big city: There are over 100 distinct neighborhoods that make up the Midwestern metropolis, and Chicago Fire has excelled at capturing the unique culture and verve of each location represented. 

"We take the story and characters into account when we first receive a script," Diamantopoulos explained. "Are the people we’re rescuing affluent or poor or somewhere in between? What is the rescue, a fire, a person trapped?"

"If it’s a blue-collar or middle-class family in the story, we might film in Pilsen or Bridgeport, which are near Cinespace Film Studios where our production is based," Diamantopoulos said. "A storyline about more affluent characters might lead us farther from the studio to Lincoln Park or The Gold Coast." 

RELATED: A Breakdown of the Current Chicago Fire Cast

"Once we know our characters and the general architecture we need, we begin to consider logistics," Diamantopoulos continued. "Is the neighborhood amenable to street closures? Are we moving to another location on the same day?"

Diamantopoulos then shone a light on what a typical day filming for Chicago Fire looks like.

"Today, for example, we are filming on the north side of Chicago in the Lincoln Square area and we have three locations to film," Diamantopoulos shared during the interview. "On a day like this, we try to find all our locations near each other, so that we’re not losing filming time on travel from one location to another. We generally shoot 12 hours a day and try to use the time as practically as possible."

Jeff Clarke (Jeff Hephner) appears in Season 2 Episode 5 of Chicago Fire

What are some of the most iconic Chicago landmarks featured on Chicago Fire?

Millennium Park, The Bean, Navy Pier, and several other iconic Windy City landmarks have all made cameos on Chicago Fire. When asked if the crew had any favorite go-to spots, Diamantopoulos gave Chicago's lakeshore a shout-out.

RELATED: What's Happened to Chief Wallace Boden on Chicago Fire?

"There are so many places we love to film and, even after 12 seasons, we find new ones all the time. I think one of our favorites would be North Avenue Beach, especially on a beautiful summer day," Diamantopoulos said.

"Although, we have shot there in winter conditions as well!" she added. "Its view of the Chicago skyline is spectacular."

Kelly Severide and Joe Cruz cut a christmas tree with a chain saw on Chicago Fire Episode 1009

Matt Casey and Sylvie Brett's Season 12 wedding was filmed at a real aquarium store

Violet Mikami (Hanako Greensmith), Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer), Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker), Matt Casey ( Jesse Spencer), and Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) appear in Season 12 Episode 6 of Chicago Fire.

Fans were excited to see which venue Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) and Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) would choose after announcing their Season 12 wedding. After Brett requested the Shedd Aquarium, there was a major communication snafu, leading Brett and Casey to end up getting married at a commercial fish store. Despite the setback, Brett was going to have her perfect day.

And, it turns out the wedding venue wasn't just a Cinespace stage: It was a real fish store.

RELATED: The Most Romantic Weddings in One Chicago History

"The aquarium store that we filmed for Brett and Casey’s wedding was a great find. Tank it Easy is the name of the place," Diamantopoulos revealed. "The look of the place was so specific, with elements that were difficult to move around, that we sort of just went with what they had and added our own wedding flair to it. Our production designer, Craig Jackson, and our set decorator, Desi Wolff, did an amazing job in dressing the place up."

Watch Chicago Fire on NBC and Peacock.