In this cynical age, when our itineraries are delivered so lifelessly straight to our pockets, let us take a moment to be grateful for the unique blend of wholesomeness and suggestiveness found in the sexy firefighter calendar. Imagine being reminded to visit the dentist not by a ping and a dull gray box, but by a smiling, shirtless man carrying an axe. What a dream.
For six years, Rhode Island has gone without monthly fixes of hunky men in turnout pants. But Rhode Island, I tell you your patience has not been in vain. In this New Year, all across the Ocean State, the RI Heat Firefighters Calendar will grace the walls of bar rooms, break rooms, and your fun aunt’s refrigerator. And should the thought of this project make you a teensy bit uncomfortable, then let this ease your mind. It’s for charity. All proceeds from the calendar will benefit the Izzy Foundation, which provides services for the families of pediatric patients in Rhode Island hospitals.
The revival of this long missed Rhode Island tradition is in the hands of North Providence fire captain and professional photographer Sean McNulty. Having worked on both sides of the camera for calendars past, McNulty is uniquely qualified for the endeavor. McNulty photographed for three former Rhode Island Firefighters calendars and featured as a model himself in the 2006 edition.
“People get caught up in the view of us as just firefighters,” McNulty says. “But we’re also very community minded and engaged and that’s a side of us not a lot of people see.”
It was McNulty who chose the Izzy Foundation to be the beneficiary of this year’s calendar proceeds. After having seen the good work the Izzy Foundation did for the families of pediatric patients, he said choosing them was a “no brainer.”
“I worked on a critical care transport team at RI Hospital for 11 years,” McNulty said. “We spent a lot of time in Hasbro [hospital] and I saw what the foundation does for the families. It provides services and support for them. Makes sure they have meals, creature comforts as they go through something as traumatic and taxing as having a child with cancer.”
The Izzy Foundation has worked in Rhode Island hospitals since 2011, providing a plethora of services for families facing the trials of pediatric care. They build spaces for families to be comfortable and safe in hospitals; they provide scholarships to survivors of pediatric cancer; they provide support groups for families; and much more.
On their Instagram on November 2, the Izzy Foundation had this to say to the firefighters:
“Thank you so much to RI Heat Firefighters Calendar for all of their incredible hard work in putting this together to help our patients and their families! YOU ARE IZSPIRING!”
The impetus for this project, according to McNulty, can be credited in no small part to Brandon and Cory Woolley. Body builders as well as Johnston firefighters, the twins’ appearance in the 2023 calendar serves as their induction into a family legacy. Both their older brother and their father have participated in calendars past.
“[The Woolley Brothers] have been after me for the last four years,” McNulty said.
Cory Woolley has plenty to say about the enthusiasm of all the participants.
“Everyone was very involved all together, talking about how we can make it bigger, better,” Woolley said. “The guys were really on board once we found out it was for the Izzy Foundation.”
In casting and shooting “The Guys,” McNulty was acutely aware that removing one’s turnout coat and helmet to pose for a camera doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and sought out those who were most comfortable taking part.
“There used to be a try-out, they’d basically put out a cattle call. It’s kind of daunting,” McNulty said. “I recruited guys that I know, a lot of younger guys that inquired about it, and basically word of mouth. I wasn’t gonna force anyone to try out.”
The Guys were also afforded plenty of creative freedom during shoots. The shoots showcased each firefighter’s interests and personality, which in turn provided McNulty with opportunities for truly dynamic and expressive photos. McNulty recalls a photo of Lieutenant Danny Wright from North Providence, a former boxer who wanted to showcase his history in the ring.
“We fooled around with the smoke machine and we just happened to get the right shot when the smoke cleared enough,” McNulty said. “We aced it.”
McNulty was also particularly proud of a shoot taken at Beavertail Lighthouse.
“It just so happened it was an overcast day, bright overcast, so I didn’t have to use a lot of fill light,” McNulty said. “We got basically the outline of the Beavertail light behind us. It came out really cool.”
The calendar was officially unveiled with a party at Moonshine Alley in Providence on November 2, and McNulty says it’s been gaining traction since. They’re hoping to keep growing hype for the project into the holiday season with a Christmas blowout and some bar crashes (with prior permission).
To see where The Guys are going next, follow them on Facebook at RI Heat firefighter’s calendar, on instagram @RIHeatfirefightercalendar, or email at email@example.com.
Calendars are selling for $20 each available at Mangiamo Deli in North Providence and Salon Serendipity in Smithfield, with more locations coming soon, to be announced on social media.