Brawny firefighters in quite tight T-shirts gathered on the Upper West Side at the Firehouse Tavern and neighboring restaurant Nonna last Saturday to celebrate the topless pictures of themselves in the 2013 Firefighters of New York Calendar, which benefits the Jacobi Medical Center Burn Unit.
Photographer Battman (real name Alan Batt), who has been doing the calendar for years, said some of the firefighters aren’t always comfortable traipsing around New York City and posing so scantily clad, but some even seem to enjoy it quite a bit: “We had a six-foot ladder in Times Square and one of the guys on top and a million women were screaming.”
Coverboy Tommy Balukas, a second-generation firefighter who has been with Engine 284 for five years, stated modestly that he wasn’t sure how he won the coveted spot. “This is my first time on the calendar. The money goes to the Jacobi burn center, which is a burn center for firefighters who have been injured,” Mr. Balukas said. “It’s for a good cause, and it’s great for me to support it any way I can.”
Mr. March, Stephan Demyan, spoke enthusiastically of how he prepared for his foray into modeling. “I had some extra time to train, so I got in tiptop shape.” But wasn’t he already finely chiseled, we asked? “I always train hard, but it comes down to a science when you have to take that next step—to the next level—with advanced cardio and such,” he explained. Mr. Demyan, a Staten Island native who has been a firefighter with Engine 163 for five years, commented that on the job they often face “high-stress situations that not everyone can deal with. Your adrenaline is going—just going into a burning building itself is tough. Unless you experience it yourself you wouldn’t realize it. And it’s not like the movies where it’s all bright and you can see. You can’t see anything!” Mr. Demyan said that the firefighter community is tight-knit and supportive: “We just had a fireman who was badly burned in Brooklyn, so Jacobi is very important. We joke around a lot and we’re good cooks. We cook a lot together. Some are better than others.”
Brooklynite Hugh Barr, of Ladder 31 in the Bronx, agreed to model for the calendar as Mr. August after a little family pressure: “My mother and my two sisters always kinda busted my chops about doing [the calendar]. They pushed me and pushed me! I said, ‘You know what—why not? I’ll give it a shot!’ And it was a great experience.” Mr. Barr vocalized how the many crises he and his team face bring them closer together, and the calendar is another way to support his extended family.
The calendar, containing thirteen hot shots, can be purchased here.