Max Thieriot And Fire Country’s Firefighter Consultant Respond To The Real Cal Fire’s Negative Reaction To The Hit CBS Drama

Max Thieriot on Fire Country
(Image credit: CBS)

When Fire Country dropped its first trailer last spring, the real Cal Fire, the program the show is based on, immediately did not like it. The real program has been clear about their dislike of the show. Now the series creator and star Max Thieriot as well as the show’s firefighter consultant are responding.

In a story from the LA Times, Thieriot spoke to the various statements from Cal Fire denouncing the show. These included responses from its director Joe Tyler who said the show is “a misrepresentation” of the real program, and another from Tim Edwards, the president of the Cal Fire Union, who emphasized they were not involved with the show at all, and “do not endorse the series.” As the story stated, these statements were released in May, months before the show was set to premiere on the 2022 TV schedule, Thieriot explained: 

I think I was more surprised by how quickly they [weighed in] without having seen anything, and how the opinion came very fast off of a trailer that’s cut together to bring in an audience.

This first season of Fire Country follows Bode, an inmate who is sent to fire camp. This program offers a bit of pay and a way for inmates to transition from prison back into the public. They help put out fires, and are paid extra when working on a fire. The story also dives into the efforts to phase out this program in real life, Edwards commented on this saying he’d rather hire someone who has “actually worked their whole life and went to school to become a firefighter” than pay inmates. Thieriot also touched on this topic, saying: 

Any time that we can try to rehabilitate people, and give them a real opportunity and second chance, then that’s a good thing.

Both Thieriot and the showrunner have been open about the importance of the real Cal Fire program that inspired the show. The SEAL Team and Fire Country star, who created the show based on his own experiences living in Northern California, also talked about his appreciation for firefighters, saying: 

The idea for this show was only with good intent. It’s an intense job and a heroic one.

Along with Thieriot, Jeff Snider, a retired firefighter and the firefighter consultant on the show, commented on the series' accuracy when depicting Cal Fire. He commented on how he works with the creatives to find a balance between accurate and dramatized situations, and he explained why he thinks there has been such a strong negative reaction from firefighters, saying: 

Just in general with firefighters, we are very good at finding the flaw with each other. I was jokingly saying, ‘If you take five random firefighters and put them in front of a fire service training video, they’ll tear it apart.’ Like, they’re gonna find where the glove wasn’t quite right, that guy shouldn’t be standing there, that helmet’s twisted partway — we are pretty ruthless.

Despite the criticism from Cal Fire, the show is already a hit for CBS, and the network ordered a full season of Fire Country after only a few episodes. If you are interested in checking out the small-town fire drama, it airs on CBS every Friday at 9 p.m. ET and can be streamed with a Paramount+ subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.