“I was passing a firehouse one day, for example, and heard a fire alarm ring in. I watched the men sliding down the pole, climbing onto the engine, and rushing off to the fire. At once a train of comic possibilities occurred to me. I saw myself sleeping in bed, oblivious to the clanging of the fire bell. This point would have a universal appeal, because everyone likes to sleep. I saw myself sliding down the pole, playing tricks with the fire horses, rescuing the heroine, falling off the fire engine as it turned a corner, and many other points along the same lines. I stored these points away in my mind and some time later, when I made The Fireman, I used every one of them. Yet if I had not watched the firehouse that day the possibilities in the character of a fireman might never have occurred to me.” (Charles Chaplin, “What People Laugh At,” American, November 1918)
Certain scenes in The Fireman were filmed at an actual Los Angeles fire house. The two burning houses shown in the film were studio-created facades, not real condemned houses which Mutual claimed in its publicity at the time. However it’s remarkable to watch Chaplin climb the three-story set in one take.