Ely-area volunteer firefighters take it off for calendarIt started — as most such things do — as a joke. Sure, the men and women of the Eagles Nest Volunteer Fire Department near Ely would be willing to bare (mostly) all for a fundraising pinup calendar. Sure they would.
By: Janna Goerdt, Duluth News Tribune
It started — as most such things do — as a joke.
Sure, the men and women of the Eagles Nest Volunteer Fire Department near Ely would be willing to bare (mostly) all for a fundraising pinup calendar. Sure they would.
Turns out, many of them did, and now the 18-month calendar, July 2010 through December 2011, is selling like hotcakes.
“One thing just led to another,” said Fire Department member Dan Humay, who pushed to keep the fundraiser going.
The calendar features some nice sunset and wildlife pictures, a tribute to the department’s pioneers and the recently revived ladies auxiliary group, the Fire Flies.
But the main appeal seems to be the playful shots of Dennis Burns rescuing a cat from a tree — sans pants — and the portrait of four firefighters posing with strategically placed rolls of hose. A birthday-suited Fire Chief Jim Sutherland sitting on the end of a dock behind a pile of turnout gear is the photo for July 2010.
The department is struggling with some outdated equipment — their sole tanker truck was new in 1967 and is in “woeful” shape, Humay said.
“Rural fire districts don’t often have the financial wherewithal that [they] really should have,” Humay said. “So you look for ways to augment that.”
You don’t buy a new $250,000 tanker truck by selling $12 calendars, of course, but every little bit helps, Humay said. Proceeds from the calendar could help purchase new turnout gear, radios or other equipment, he said.
The calendar was more than a year in the making, said Barb Burns, a member of the Fire Flies auxiliary group and wife of firefighter Dennis Burns. Volunteer photographers Billie and Mike Rouse pitched in their skills, and local advertisers got behind the idea.
One thing notably missing from many of the pictures is the department’s younger members. They were all conspicuously absent when picture time rolled around, Humay said. But the prevailing thought among the willing members was, “Oh, why not?”
“As you become more of a vintage person, I think you get a little more philosophical, and you become pretty comfortable with yourself,” Humay said. “What the heck.”
So far, the calendar has been a hit, Barb Burns said.
“Probably 80 percent or more think it’s hilarious,” she said. A relative bought 15 copies to send to her children and friends for Christmas presents, Burns said. But there have been some negative reactions, which Burns said they expected.
“Some people think it’s crude,” she said.
Humay said they tried to keep the pictures “tasteful,” and he said most people like the results.
Rick Peterson, regional sales manager for the Gordon Bernard customized calendar company, worked with the Fire Department to print the calendar. The Ohio-based company has been publishing calendars for individuals and nonprofit agencies since 1949, Peterson said.
“They had a very unique calendar,” Peterson said. “I think they had a lot of fun with it.”
As far as the content — no problem, Peterson said, “as long as it’s semi-nude.”
The department has already sold out its first printing of calendars and is working on the second batch, Barb Burns said. And they are kicking around ideas for the next calendar, Humay said. Some in the department think it’s the Fire Flies’ turn to pose as calendar girls, but Dennis Burns isn’t so sure.
“I wouldn’t count on it,” he said.
Get your own
Calendars can be ordered by calling Barb Burns at (218) 365-3621.