Can Chicago Fire’s firefighters ever really get promoted?

CHICAGO FIRE -- "A Breaking Point" Episode 604 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "A Breaking Point" Episode 604 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

Chicago Fire promoted Matthew Casey in Chicago Fire season 6, but is his promotion the rule or the exception when it comes to the future of Firehouse 51?

One of the biggest highlights of Chicago Fire season 6 was Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) being promoted to Captain.

It was a promotion that was way overdue, as both the fans and several characters pointed out how much Casey had done over the past five seasons. He had been a rock for both Firehouse 51 and the city of Chicago.

But as much as it was an accomplishment for Casey, it was also an accomplishment for Chicago Fire.

That’s because Firehouse 51 has had something of a glass ceiling. Every other time one of our main characters has been up for a significant promotion, something always gets in the way that holds them back.

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When Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) was looking at making a move up the career ladder in an earlier season, he wound up torpedoing his own shot at advancement—and it’s not necessarily something he’d revisit.

“It’s a mixed bag for him,” David told us in our interview before the Chicago Fire season 6 finale. “There’s always this thing if you become a white shirt, then a lot of times it’s easier to drink the Kool-Aid and he’s afraid of that.”

More recently, we saw Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) potentially up for not one but two new roles, and he wound up with neither.

Boden originally thought he’d succeed Chief Carl Grissom (guest star Gary Cole) before the other man changed his mind about retirement, and then he challenged Grissom for the vacant role of Fire Commissioner only to lose the race—just before he could expose Grissom’s underhanded ways.

And then there’s Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney), who’s been pushed to move up a few times over the series, but doesn’t have serious interest in being anything other than a Lieutenant:

There’s a good reason for this relative lack of career advancement, though, and it’s an off-screen consideration. If Chicago Fire had characters get promoted, then they’d possibly have to leave the firehouse, and then they wouldn’t be on the show anymore. That’s something co-creator Derek Haas has discussed with us in the past.

“You want them to get promoted, to reach their dream, and the audience is pulling for these types of things,” he explained. “And yet we don’t want to mess up the dynamic of our show so we have to be smart about it.”

But that discrepancy is starting to get more glaring now that we’re heading into Chicago Fire season 7. The characters are supposed to be so great at their jobs, and we’ve seen them being great at their jobs for so long, that there’s really no good reason why they’re not getting more recognition.

Continuing to come up with higher-ups that have an axe to grind (like Grissom and Deputy Chief Anderson from last season) only goes so far, and fans are kind of over that by now.

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So what’s the solution to this very “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” problem? Having Casey make Captain was a big step, and created a new dynamic on many levels for Chicago Fire. But the only viable solution, logistically, would be to keep down this road as the show nears its eventual end.

We don’t know how many more seasons Chicago Fire will go, but whenever we get closer to the finish line, then it would make sense to push some of these characters on to the next phases of their careers. It would be an interesting ending if Boden moved up or retired, and Casey became the new Chief of Firehouse 51.

Until then, a couple of commendations or generally having less antagonistic bosses would also be a help in making it feel like our heroes aren’t going completely unrecognized. If they’re the best of the best, and we believe that they are, let’s get them some attention for it. It’s what they deserve.

Next: 5 questions about Chicago Fire without Dawson

Do you think the firefighters and paramedics of Chicago Fire deserve another promotion or two in their future? Let us know your thoughts on Firehouse 51’s future in the comments.

Chicago Fire returns to NBC this fall.