Eamonn Walker  of "Chicago Fire" films in Chicago on Nov. 30, 2012

Eamonn Walker of “Chicago Fire” films in Chicago on Nov. 30, 2012

*He plays a fireman on TV, but for the longest time, British actor Eamonn Walker saw very few flames as Battalion Chief Wallace Boden on NBC’s “Chicago Fire.”

In recent weeks, however, the actor – who famously played spiritual inmate Kareem Said on HBO’s “Oz” – has not only gotten to leave his desk and go on calls, but he’s suddenly in the thick of some meaty storylines – including tonight’s episode, which sees him trying to intervene in the life of a troubled youth.

In next week’s show, EMT Gabriela (Monica Raymund) comes to Boden for advice after her cop brother Antonio (“Treme’s” Jon Seda) draws attention away from her job.

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To sell their roles as firefighters, Walker and the rest of the cast put in work with real Chicago fireman for weeks before production began.

“I do have a new respect for firefighters.The training that they put us on in the academy, through a great deal of fire and smoke and mock situations to get us up to speed, I now know what firemen do,” Walker told us. “They’re real heroes, so I appreciate them.”

With all due respect to our county’s bravest, can the rigors of fire training for Dick Wolf’s drama even come close to the preparation it took to play an inmate in producer Tom Fontana’s deadly Oswald State Correctional Facility?

Listen to Eamonn’s answer below.

“Chicago Fire” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC. Watch a behind the scenes clip with Eamonn below.