Chicago Fire’s Derek Haas previews intense season 8 premiere

CHICAGO FIRE -- "Sacred Ground" Episode 801 -- Pictured: Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "Sacred Ground" Episode 801 -- Pictured: Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

The Chicago Fire season premiere is the show’s biggest yet, and Derek Haas joined One Chicago Center to preview the Chicago Fire season 8 opener.

When Chicago Fire returns tomorrow, One Chicago fans will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens to the members of Firehouse 51.

Showrunner and co-creator Derek Haas recently connected with us to talk about how they came up with the idea for such a massive cliffhanger—and why he’s still pushing the show farther in its eighth season.

If you need to remember where the show left off, you can catch up with our recap here or watch full episodes from last season on Hulu.

Learn more in our interview with Derek below, then make sure you don’t miss the Chicago Fire season 8 premiere Wednesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

More from One Chicago Center

One Chicago Center: Having everyone in a burning factory easily qualifies as the biggest cliffhanger in Chicago Fire history. How did you decide to go that far at the end of last season?

Derek Haas: We wanted to do one of those cliffhangers where everyone was in jeopardy, but not really know what we were going to do on the other side of it. We figured we had time, and if we didn’t have to hurry a decision, then we could leave it open-ended.

And if we did that, then the audience would be surprised, because we would take our time to think of an opening to the season that would be more shocking and more surprising—that the audience didn’t see coming, which is exactly how it ended up happening.

So we had no idea. Even when the [season 7 finale] episode aired, I didn’t know what we were going to do for season 8. And then I talked to Andrea Newman and Michael Gilvary, my two head writers, and we had the idea of doing what we did.

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Whatever happens to the existing cast, you’ve already mentioned there’s a new firefighter coming in during the season. What can we say about the latest addition?

We did hire Alberto Rosende, who’s going to play a young firefighter. Our house is looking to expand, and Casey decides that this guy has the kind of raw energy and potential that he almost sees a young Severide and a young Casey rolled into one in this guy.

[He] says under the mentorship of myself, of Severide, of Boden, of Herrmann, of Mouch we could make this young potential brilliant firefighter into the diamond we think he would be. That’s later on.

Not many shows make it to an eighth season, so what has it been like to push the envelope in season 8 and try to take Chicago Fire to new heights?

I want to thank the audience because this is our eighth season and last year we went up in total viewers, which is not happening for other shows. Granted, we moved time slots [to Wednesdays], but it was more than that. We got all three shows on the same night for the first time ever. It was like your own binging with the Chicago shows that you could do one night a week.

And this audience who have pretty much been around since the opening are still here, still passionate about characters, to the point of [being] like, fanatical about these characters and their lives. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, because I don’t feel like I’m writing in an abyss or an echoless void. I feel like I’m writing and I see that audience, and feel their reaction, and it makes the job awesome.

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For the latest Chicago Fire season 8 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.