Firefighters are ready to deal with matters of life and death on a daily basis. So in a way, it was appropriate that I attended the FDNY Calendar Event last week, when I was dealing with matters of life and death, also. But the FDNY Calendar is also about men showing off their abs, so that was a little less appropriate. Still, an effective distraction can be useful in trying times.
I joined Gita Sellei of Distract TV and four friends at the Firehouse, a sports bar on the Upper West Side for the NYFD Calendar Charity Event. Gita soon persuaded all the firefighters present to remove their shirts, pose for pictures and sign our calendars. I acquired such choice inscriptions on my calendar as, “The only pole we’ll be working with is the one in my pants,” and “I’ll be happy to put out your fire any time.” Unfortunately someone purloined my calendar, which had my name all over it. If you buy your own calendar, part of your purchase will support the Burn Centers of New York.
New York Firefighters receive around 14 calls per day, and between those, they clean and check equipment, cook, eat, and judging by their appearance, work out a lot. Although there were none at this event, the Fire Department strongly encourages women to become Firefighters.
“How do you get chosen to be in the calendar?” I asked one of the firemen.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “You send in a picture and this old guy who’s a photographer chooses.”
The older gentleman is philanthropist and acclaimed photographer, Alan Batt, otherwise known as Battman. He started the calendar as a way to raise money for charities, and is also known for photographing the city and food. Proceeds from his book, "Street Eats," published last year, go toward Action Against Hunger.
Battman started shooting the FDNY Calendar in 1996. As well as showcasing New York’s Bravest, the calendar shows the landscape of NYC, with backgrounds from the Freedom Tower to the Bronx Stadium. It costs from 12.93 to 19.95, depending on where you purchase it. As always, The Burns Center of New York receives a part of the proceeds.
Photos of Firehouse Event by Gita Sellei