Palm Beach County--Fund Raising Calendar
Call 911! These calendar boys are hot
By Leslie Gray Streeter, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Firemen are your basic all-American heroes. They risk their lives to save strangers from burning buildings. They like Dalmatians. They're willing to do almost anything for a good cause, including taking off their shirts and posing for a calendar for charity.
We like firemen.
And we really like Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue member Derek Rodriguez, who's featured very prominently in the 2004 South Florida Firefighters Calendar. The other firefighters from companies from as far south as Miami-Dade County and as far north as Palm Beach County were relegated to just one month, but 26-year-old Rodriguez is on the cover.
And, yes, ladies, he's single.
"I'm happy to represent the whole thing. They had 12 guys. They needed an extra guy," said the gracious Rodriguez, a Miami Beach resident who has been with the Palm Beach County company for a year and a half.
Most of the firefighters featured have never modeled professionally, although many of them are serious bodybuilders. Rodriguez, on the other hand, did some runway modeling before trading in the catwalk for the ladder.
"There wasn't enough time to do both. Training for being a firefighter takes so much time. I'm a firefighter before anything," said Rodriguez, who had always dreamed of being in public service (his father, Lt. Ralph Rodriguez, is with the Miami Springs Police Department).
The calendar gave Rodriguez a chance to combine his former and current careers for a good cause. Proceeds benefit Here's Help, a drug treatment and rehabilitation program, and Neighbors 4 Neighbors, a nonprofit crisis assistance agency.
Rodriguez, who is currently in paramedics training, says he knows doing the calendar has opened him up to ribbing from the other guys on the job -- "I know my picture will be up on the board with some crazy things written on it."
But the grief is worth it. "The best thing is that we all come from different cities and counties, but we're together meeting people and raising money," Rodriguez said. "A lot of us went to (fire-rescue training) together. This is making us more like a brotherhood, like what they've got in New York City."
Since April, when the guys were handpicked by several ladies at a Secretary's Day event at Parrot Jungle, the calendar boys have had a crash course in pin-up idoldom and the screaming women who accompany it. Rodriguez and the other firefighters say it's a little weird, but they're dealing with it.
"We get a lot of attention, and people are very nice," said Mr. November, Aly Julimiste of the City of Miami Fire and Rescue. "For the most part, (event coordinators) make sure the ladies are very well-behaved. They let them know they're not to fondle us or anything."
"It gets a little rowdier at appearances at clubs. They always ask us, 'Are you guys really firefighters?' " Rodriguez said.
Yep, ladies, they certainly are. And that's why Rodriguez says the public appearances for the calendar don't make him nervous. "We go to people's houses we don't know all the time," he shrugged, neglecting to add that they don't appear at fire scenes without their shirts.
Still, he's offered his fellow firefighters/calendar boys some runway advice gleaned from his modeling days.
"Look to the back of the crowd. It's like you're looking into their eyes," Rodriguez said, who allows that his picture graces the cover not because he's cuter than the other guys but because the dimensions of the photograph looked the best for the cover.
Whatever. He can be gracious all he wants, but a random sample of women gathered recently to see the firefighters at Boca's Town Center disagrees.
"That first one's my favorite. Woo-hoo!" Marlo November of Fort Lauderdale said of Rodriguez. (And with her last name, she might be an expert.)
The cost for the South Florida Firefighters Calendar 2004 is $14.95 plus $3 shipping and handling. See www.Firefighters
Calendar.com for more information.