‘Fire Country’ Dramatizes The Struggles Of Inmate Firefighters As They Tackle Massive Blazes

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Max Thieriot’s in a hurry. He wants to finish building his chicken coop.

Thieriot’s quite busy these days as the actor stars in two series: Seal Team and Fire Country. With Fire Country, he also created the series and serves as executive producer.

He says that he doesn’t approach anything unless, “I can give a hundred percent of what I have to that.” So, no need to worry if he can keep up with both projects.

Thieriot credits a relative with teaching him to seize the moment as he explains, “My grandpa, who farmed corn for 72 years, always said, ‘Make hay while the sun shines.’ And it’s like, I’m young, it’s time to work, and I can do it.”

As an example, during the press event, he utters, “I have my work jeans on right now underneath my fancy shirt because I’m going to go out and finish my chicken coop as soon as we get off this call.”

Getting to work behind the camera as an EP is all new to Thieriot as he says, “I had never tried pitching [a TV show to anyone] or even finished writing anything before. I’m sort of a little bit of a hummingbird where I’ll start on something and then I’m off to another idea. [With this], I found myself just so locked into it.”

What he was so drawn to is, through Fire Country, telling the story of a young convict who joins a firefighting program as he looks for redemption and a shortened prison sentence. He and other inmates work alongside elite firefighters to extinguish massive blazes across the region.

The series also stars Billy Burke, Diane Farr, Kevin Alejandro, Jordan Calloway, Jules Latimer, and Stephanie Arcila.

Even while getting the idea greenlit, Theriot says he wasn’t sure if he was going to be on-screen in series. “When I started, I didn’t know. I sort of wrote this character with myself in mind and one other buddy. Honestly, it was [the very first meeting with executives and] they said, ‘You’re going to play the guy, right? You have to play the guy. You’re the guy.’”

He says that it was in that moment that Thieriot decided he was going to take on the lead role.

Growing up in a town of a thousand people in Sonoma County, California, Thieriot says that he didn’t realize, ‘how interesting life in a small town is.’

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It was after he left the area that he looked back and thought, in his words, “Wow, it’s such a different way of living, but it’s also, [there’s] the comfort that you have, the familiarity you have with everybody, how close this community is, and how in times of struggle, when everybody needs to come together, they really do.”

Thieriot relates to the struggles with wildfires in the area as he talks about a particular fire he remembers being, “so fast and so explosive that the firefighters really didn’t have time to try and stop it. So, it became more about just trying to save lives. It wasn’t about structures, it wasn’t about trees, it was about saving lives. And it was such a devastating fire that it got to a lot of people before they were able to leave.”

During that fire, he was texting with his friends who are firefighters, asking them what was going on and he says he received some, “pretty horrific text messages [of] some of the things they were seeing in those moments and what they were experiencing.”

In an interesting twist, Thieriot’s co-star Farr has played a firefighter twice before. She says, “The first job, I had to learn how to fly a Cessna; second job, I had to learn everything because nobody thought I could be a firefighter. I trained with three ladies in three states. It was super hard.”

She goes on to add, “Now, let me tell you, Before this. I didn’t understand the difference between a structure fire and an outdoor fire. I did understand the concept that firefighters are running in the building when everybody else is running out. It’s like they come with a built‑in hero archetype.”

Thieriot says that he discovered a story about firefighters that really had an impact on him. When he read it, “it kind of hit me, because it just summed up who firefighters are — they face danger every day and protect people’s lives, but [during their] down time, they’re doing stuff like this.”

The ‘this’ he’s talking about is the time a woman’s mother was in a nursing home during Covid and was close to passing away. The woman hadn’t seen her mother in six months, so she decided to get a ladder and climb up to her mother’s window on the second floor. When the firefighters heard what the woman planned to do, “They drove her down there, and [they used the truck to raise] her all the way up to so she could sit there and see her mom’s face.”

With this, Thierot came to a realization. “I think that those are just the small gestures that firefighters do.”

This is the reason that Thieriot says he’s excited to, “share this story of these firefighters who are not only incredible heroes, but are also people who have huge and kind hearts.”

‘Fire Country’ airs Fridays at 9/8c on CBS an is available for streaming on Paramount+

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