Leary's Fired Up

"We're glad to raise the money and give it to the FDNY or the New Orleans Fire Department or the Boston Fire Department, but I really wish the foundation could go out of business because one politician could step in and say this is crazy, these guys are the first responders, we should make sure that these guys are outfitted the way they should be," he says.

On 9/11, as Leary likes to remind anyone who will listen, the first people to respond were the firefighters. On that day their radios didn't work, and there were plenty of other equipment complaints. Six years later, he says, those radios still don't work.

"I really believe that the federal government, the mayor, and certainly the ex-mayor of this city don't care about firefighters. I don't care what he says, if you walk about this room tonight and talk about Rudy Giuliani, every single firefighter in this room will tell you he did nothing for the Fire Department," Leary says.

"I'm tired of those guys taking credit for it. The only reason I'm glad to take credit is because I'm here and I'm raising money and I'm giving it to them. These empty promises that these guys get away with? They're not forgotten. They're not forgotten by the FDNY and they're certainly not forgotten by us."

Reflecting on the success of Rescue Me, and the 22 episode fifth season ahead of him, Leary, who plays New York City firefighter Tommy Gavin, injects a little reality into his response, with the kind of tell-it-to-you-straight talk that the gritty drama excels at.

"If you ask anyone on the street in this country, whether it's a man or a woman or a kid, who they most look up to in terms of what people do for a living - firefighters are always one of the first people mentioned. I think it's a very honorable profession that politicians take advantage of, and the show and this foundation are here to do the opposite."

Rescue Me's fifth season begins on Tuesday, January 1 on the FX network.