"You don't want to be laughed at by firemen," says the actor. "You have to be carrying all the right tools and know how to get on and off the rig without looking like a jackass."
The authenticity could be dangerous during the three-alarm sequences.
"It was always real fire," he says. "They'd be lighting things up all the time. I caught on fire a couple of times.
"To make it look like a burning ceiling, they'd use a flammable gel, which would sometimes drip on you. That burned like crazy."
Lou could stand the heat and was usually in the kitchen, as the house's designated chef.
"I don't know whether they threw that in because I'm a bit of a foodie," he says. "I love to cook."
But not on camera. "When I was supposed to be cooking in a scene, I'd have to stand the whole time, dicing and filleting. As a lazy actor, I'd rather be sitting and reading a paper like the rest of the guys."
Scurti's devotion to his work indicates that he is anything but a lazy actor.
The Long Island native ("My dad was Italian; my mom was off-the-boat Irish") got hooked on the spotlight as an adolescent. (Scurti's exact age is a secret, but based on the fact that he was in a high school play with Edie Falco, we'd put him just this side of 50.)
He spent 20 years scraping by on guest spots and commercials.
"I lived out of a change cup, waiting tables," he recalls. "Television is about beautiful, shiny things. If you're not [shiny or beautiful], you have to get in the back door. It's frustrating and heartbreaking."
Thinking about the old days seems to stir up memories for Scurti. Out of the blue, he says, "I want to give a shout-out to my old college girlfriend, Janey. She lives in Philadelphia. Shout-out to Philly Jane."
Scurti met Leary through a mutual friend, director Ted Demme. Before his untimely death at 38, Demme directed, among other things, the frenzied black-and-white rants on MTV that catapulted a chain-smoking Leary to fame.
(Sample: "I want to see . . . Cindy Crawford eating an Eskimo Pie naked on top of the Empire State Building.")
"Denis was really close to Teddy, and when he passed away, I think I stepped into that void a little bit," says Scurti.
"We started working on some projects. At the time Rescue Me was just a pot on the stove," he says. "Denis always has a lot of pots on a lot of stoves. That one happened to come to a boil."
"People always want to hear horror stories from the set. There was a little fighting here and there," he admits. "How could there not be when you have Leary around?"
But Scurti would repeat the experience in a firefighter's minute.
"I hope I get on another show that has half as much humor and intelligence and ability to move people," he says. "That's my dream for the future."
At the moment, with heat waves walloping the East Coast, Scurti is quite content to be in the Bay Area filming a movie, Olive, in which he plays Gena Rowlands' son.
"I took this job because it's in San Francisco," he says. "It's been nothing but 69 degrees and sunny. This may be where Lou relocates."
Maybe he can't stand the heat after all.
Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his pop-culture blog at www.philly.com/dod.