Every year, members of the St. Catharines Fire Combat Team strip down and flex their muscles for a good cause with proceeds going to charity. (St. Catharines Fire Department photo)

No shirts, no city services: Firefighter calendar too steamy for Ontario officials

The city has never funded the calendars, but has OK’d photoshoots at city-owned properties

An Ontario city is telling its firefighters to turn down the heat on their steamy annual calendar or risk losing municipal backing for the fundraiser.

Every year, members of the St. Catharines Fire Combat Team strip down and flex their muscles for a good cause with proceeds going to charity.

But now local officials say firefighters either have to cover up or not wear their uniforms for the shoot, because municipal resources can’t be used for the publication of bare-chested photos of employees.

Deputy chief administrative officer David Oakes insisted the no shirts, no city services mandate isn’t meant to discourage do-gooding, but to uphold standards of “respect and dignity” in the workplace.

“We support the notion of charity,” Oakes said Thursday.

“But when they’re using city resources, we want to make sure that it’s respectful of our workforce and some of the conditions that we have throughout all departments.”

Oakes said the change was prompted by a city employee who complained about a calendar depicting partially undressed women that was displayed in a municipal facility.

While investigating the issue, Oakes said the mostly male firefighters’ calendar was put forward as evidence of a gender-based ”double standard,” so the city decided to crack down on skin-baring images of both men and women.

READ MORE: Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

While the city has never funded the calendars, it has allowed firefighters to incorporate city-owned property into the photos.

The decision means firefighters are now barred from staging shoots in city firehouses, and cannot include equipment, logos and uniforms into the scene, if they bare skin.

They can still use city settings and gear if they dress more modestly, Oakes added.

Ryan Madill, the president of the St. Catharines Professional Firefighters Association, said the department has been putting out calendars on-and-off for about a quarter century.

In recent years, the calendar has featured topless members of the crew’s combat team, who compete in firefighting-themed athletic contests, and has included a female firefighter, who appeared in a sports bra.

The 2020 calendar consists of 12 months of musclemen posing with all manner of flame-quenching equipment.

Mr. September wields an axe before a rack of jackets and bags packed for the next emergency call.

Mr. June casually clasps a handful of hoses hanging from above, while Mr. April flashes a smile while hanging from the back of a fire truck.

And of course, the models show off their six-packs for every season.

But with the city’s new restrictions, Madill said it remains to be seen whether they’ll release a 2021 edition.

“I don’t want to comment on whether (the city was) right or wrong, other than to say that all of the participants in the calendar were willing, and we had no complaints from anyone from the public,” said Madill.

“It’s unfortunate that we lose that ability to generate funds to go to charity.”

Last year, the combat team raised $18,000 for mental health services in St. Catharines between calendar sales and a fashion show, said Madill. These initiatives not only serve as a form of community outreach, he said, but also a “morale booster.”

He said firefighters spend many off-duty hours setting up shoots, toning their bodies into photo-ready shape, promoting the calendar at local events and signing autographs for fans.

For the most part, people only get to meet their local firefighters in an emergency, said Rob Hyndman, president of the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association and a multi-time calendar model in Sudbury.

That’s why firefighters across the province use calendars as a platform to show a more personal side, and a whole lot of skin, to their communities, Hyndman said.

“In today’s world, when everything’s so serious and ridiculous, it’s nice to have something that’s just fun and cheeky,” said Hyndman. “Keep the calendars hot.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

firefighters

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey to pay TransLink $30M in land, $9M in cash for work on cancelled LRT

Council considered staff report on city’s 2019 annual financial statements during Monday’s “virtual” council meeting

Surrey RCMP promise enforcement at unofficial show ‘n’ shines

Cars have been impounded at the site in the last two years

‘There’s no playbook for this’: South Surrey sports organizations await approval to return to play

Local associations planning for modified summer seasons as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Local Chinese Canadians aim to counter COVID-19 backlash

Few racist incidents on Peninsula, says Community Engagement Society

Surrey now has second urgent and primary care centre, in Newton, premier says

Premier John Horgan noted that some 90,000 people in Surrey don’t have a family doctor

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

United Way allocating $6.6M in federal funding to help with food security, youth mental health

Applications from Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland charities being accepted for the emergency funding

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read