Tucson firefighters are out of uniform for a good cause.
Photos of 17 shirtless paramedics and firefighters are featured in the 2014 Tucson Firefighters Association calendar to benefit the Southern Arizona chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
The 16-month calendar was put together by firefighter Joyce Carrasco and photographed by paramedic Peter Bernal, who has his own company, Studio Image Photography. It was decided to donate proceeds to the Huntington’s Disease Society because the wife of one of the featured firefighters is grappling with the illness. Past calendars have benefited the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the University of Arizona Medical Center burn unit.
“The reason this year’s calendar was so big is I got a huge response from the guys in the department, and I didn’t want to turn anyone down,” said Carrasco, whose husband is Mr. October 2014.
The firefighters and paramedics who volunteered to pose for the calendar were already fit. That’s part of their job requirement. But “they actually don’t know what they’re getting into until they get Joyce on their butt,” Bernal said. “She’s constantly on them to make sure they look good and work out. All the guys, they put in a lot of time and effort.”
Tony Cota, the Tucson Fire Department paramedic who graces the cover, lost 60 pounds getting in shape for his photo shoot, said Bernal, who noted that none of the photos are touched up.
“What you see is what you get. If you see those guys on the street, that’s what they’re going to look like,” he said.
Most of the photos were taken in Tucson. Some were shot at Old Tucson Studios west of town, others were shot from rooftops and one was taken on a dock in Puerto Peñasco when Bernal and a buddy, paramedic Arned Hernandez (aka Mr. June), went to Mexico.
The photo on the back cover of the calendar was taken from the rooftop of the UA Medical Center and features an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter that landed while they were shooting.
Hospital workers got a peek behind the scenes during that shoot when the security cameras from the roof broadcast the photo session on a big screen TV at the nurses’ station, Bernal said. Not that the firefighters and paramedics minded.
“They are a bunch of hams,” Bernal said. “It’s a blast when we get to go on these photo shoots with these guys. Everybody’s really lighthearted. They know it’s for a good cause.”
Yet, said Bernal, “they don’t realize how hard it is to be a model — stand there and contort their bodies and smile and not breathe and click. It’s challenging working with a model not used to posing.”