By Gideon Bradshaw Trib Total Media – photo by 445photography
Monroeville firefighters said they’ll try turning up the heat to raise money by selling a calendar that features photos of scantily clad women posing on trucks and in stations.
Fire Company 5 Chief Ron Harvey said the five all-volunteer fire companies that cover Monroeville think relying on taxpayers to upgrade the public safety training center on Johnston Road is not an option, particularly in light of other pressing public infrastructure needs and financial constraints.
Monroeville firefighters and first responders from other departments train at the center.
Harvey, who also is a Monroeville councilman, and the other fire chiefs plan to prepare a sample calendar before taking their proposal to elected officials “rather than give everybody the impression that this is some sort of porn calendar.”
“It’s an honorable project,” Harvey said. “It doesn’t insult anybody. It’s a fundraiser that doesn’t cost the taxpayers a penny.”
Female models donned firefighting gear and smoldering looks last weekend for a revealing shoot at two Monroeville fire stations.
Monroeville firefighters are not the first to think of using a racy calendar to save on public funds.
Harvey said volunteer firefighters in Pleasant Hills sold “literally hundreds of thousands of copies” of a theme calendar to raise money for their department in the late 1990s. The South Florida-based nonprofit America’s Female Firefighters has been releasing yearly calendars featuring professional firefighters posing in swimwear since 1999 to raise funds for burn survivors, according to its website.
Harvey said Monroeville firefighters just don’t have the time to raise revenue through more traditional fundraising efforts.
The roughly $300,000 Harvey said the companies receive each year go toward routine costs like equipment upkeep and don’t cover other projects. He also said it’s unclear how much the desired upgrades — which include a pavilion and outdoor rest-rooms on the training center’s grounds — would cost the departments, but he didn’t expect additional plumbing to come cheap.
Harvey said the photographers and models didn’t take payments, but instead are building their portfolios.
If council approves the project, the departments plan to split the cost of printing the calendar, Harvey said, but added that the departments are “not even close” to estimating the costs of printing.
Michael Anthony, owner of Three Rivers Modeling Group, the South Side talent agency that arranged the shoot — worked for free. “These are members of the community who are risking their lives for their neighbors,” he said. “They actually had a call while we were there and they had to pack up and go. They’re volunteers, and I think that says a lot.”
Word has started to get around on the proposal. But if it’s ignited controversy, Harvey hasn’t heard about it.
“I haven’t gotten any negative phone calls about it. The three or four calls I’ve got about it have been, ‘What’s the big deal?’” Harvey said.
Councilwoman Linda Gaydos said she would have to review the proposal before signing off on the project. But she said nothing about the proposal struck her as particularly risque.
“Those calendars are everywhere,” Gaydos said. “I could go to the mall right now and get one.”