Interviewed for an article by American Cinematographer, “Chicago Fire” director of photography Jayson Crothers said that a major conflagration isn’t called for in every storyline but that “every couple of episodes, we have a big burn.” The article explains that exterior blazes on the show are shot outside at various locations across the city, depending on the script’s requirements. For fires that erupt inside a home or other structure, however, the scenes are shot on what is known as a Burn Stage. The facility used on “Chicago Fire” is housed at Chicago’s Cinespace Film Studios. A converted warehouse has been adapted with three separate, burnable areas: a basement, a spacious, open room, and a multi-level set.
“Shooting on the Burn Stage comes with its unique challenges and is exceptionally slow,” Crothers said in the same interview. “Every setup on the Burn Stage takes between 45 minutes and an hour to set up.” He added that the actual time spent shooting the fire is brief, saying, “Most of our takes on the Burn Stage are between 20 and 30 seconds — a character runs down a hallway, kicks open a door, and that’s it. Then it takes another 45 minutes to an hour to reset for the next setup.”