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'Sirens' TV Series Wipes Out Parking in Wicker Park Hub Through Thursday

By Alisa Hauser | September 24, 2013 10:13am | Updated on September 24, 2013 10:41am
 "Sirens," a USA Network TV pilot featuring EMT ambulance workers, is filming in Wicker Park through Wednesday.
"Sirens" Films in Wicker Park
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WICKER PARK — Lights, camera, fire and sirens.

"Sirens," a new USA Network TV series featuring Windy City ambulance workers has joined NBC's "Chicago Fire" in filming in Bucktown and Wicker Park.

On Monday, film crews and trailers for "Sirens" descended upon the 1600 block of North Damen Avenue, just north of the busy Milwaukee, Damen and North intersection.

Robert Montgomery, 23, a sales representative for David's Tea at 1645 N. Damen Ave. said he saw people dressed in EMT garb walking outside the window and "for a second I thought they were real."

But Montgomery said the fact he knows ambulance workers in Chicago "wear white or blue" and not black, which the actors were wearing, tipped him off. 

Filming began Monday in the 1600 block of North Damen Avenue and will continue through Thursday, according to "no parking" signs that appeared on street poles in the 1500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, the 1500 block of Elk Grove Avenue and the 1500 block of North Wood Street.

Picked up in May, "Sirens" is a half-hour comedy series about "Chicago EMTs who have their own act together at work but are a mess in their personal lives," according to the Tribune.

"Sirens" is not to be confused with NBC's "Chicago PD," a spin-off of "Chicago Fire" that focuses on police officers and began filming this fall, taking over several streets in Pilsen.

Written by Denis Leary and Bob Fischer, "Sirens" follows three of Chicago’s best EMTs whose sometimes silly, self-righteous and even self-destructive personalities make them unqualified for sustaining relationships, friendships and most occupations, Deadline reports.

Actors Michael Mosley, Kevin Daniels, Jessica McNamee and Kevin Bigley star in the series, along with Jean Smart of "Designing Women" and "24" fame, the Huffington Post reports.

The addition of another show filming in the neighborhood has come as a surprise to some residents.

"I'm amazed at how much of the street they used! Was this a chase scene [all along Damen]?'" asked Rob Halpin while surveying a block-long stretch of trailers parked on the east side of the 1600 block of North Damen Avenue.

The 62-year-old Halpin moved to Bucktown to escape his own brush with fame, after he was evicted from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house, which he was renting around the time Emanuel decided to move back to Chicago and run for mayor. 

Halpin, who was about to walk into Northside Bar and Grill at 1635 N. Damen Ave. Monday night, joked that the current lack of parking situation on Damen looked bad but "it's not as bad as getting thrown out of Rahm Emanuel's house."

Some businesses along Damen Avenue suffered slow sales Monday.

Around 6 p.m. Monday, Brad Bamford, assistant manager of Dimo's Pizza,1615 N. Damen Ave., said sales were "slower than usual." 

Bamford said he didn't hear about the filming through a flyer or in Ald. Scott Waguespack's (32nd) ward newsletter, either.

Bamford said the fact trucks were parked in front of the restaurant might have led people to think the east side of Damen Avenue was shut down.

On Tuesday, "Siren" crews will move to a Wicker Park home listed on the historic register.

The owner of the ivy-covered home who wished not to be named said she received a postcard in her mailbox from "Siren" scouts and that she and her husband were spending the next three nights in a hotel during the filming.

While filming temporarily irks some residents, the benefits are worth it to some business owners.

"I like movie magic, the illusions. I don't mind it at all," said Derek Mullins, owner of Metamorph Tattoo Studios at 1456 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The filmings are also a boon to the city, particularly in Wicker Park and Bucktown, which "have historically been popular neighborhoods for filming," according to Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office.

While it’s "too soon to know the economic impact of film and TV production for 2013," Moskal said that 2012 was a record year, with $184 million in local spending and the creation of 2,200 jobs.

Including "Sirens," "Chicago PD," and "Chicago Fire," there are presently six full-time television series headquartered in Chicago.

Three big-budget feature films ("Transformers 4," "Jupiter Ascending" and "Divergent") chose to film in Chicago in 2013 as well.