The 2009 Colorado Firefighter Calendar debuts Friday, August 22 with a raging party at Beta (click here for our full event listing). All proceeds from the calendar benefit Fired Up For Kids, a charity for the Children's Hospital Burn Center. We caught up with cover boy Robert Boggess (pictured) to get his take on the heat.
Westword (Amber Taufen): Can you tell me about how you became a firefighter?
Robert Boggess: It’s not going to be very exciting to write. I was in college, I originally wanted to be a gym teacher or kindgergarten teacher. My grandfather talked me out of that and I went to business school instead. I was about to graduate and realized I had absolutely no interest in being in an office. I had some firefighter friends at the health club, and they said, "Why don’t you try out for the fire department?" I got on rather quickly at the fire department outside Chicago, realized I didn’t want to stay in Chicago for the rest of my life and started looking around. I wanted to live by either the beach or the mountains, and I ended up in Boulder.
WW: And what made you decide to try out for the calendar?
RB: I’ve told other people, there’s three reasons. One: Any charity that helps children is a good charity in my opinion. And two: Fired Up For Kids is very well-run organization that puts their money where they say they’re putting it. They don’t have expenses or all this other stuff that chips away at the amount you give. They give 100 percent to what they’re saying they’re giving it to, and that means a lot to me -- to support an organization and ask for money from people knowing that it’s going to where I’m telling them and not paying some CEO, some secretaries and lots of fancy-schmancy parties. The third reason is, my wife kind of bantered me into it.
WW: So what does she think of the shot they chose?
RB: She loves it.
WW: What's the reaction at the station been like?
RB: Lots of friendly bantering. They’re making fun of me. It was expected. I wouldn’t expect less because I would do the same thing to anybody else. All that is, is friendly cameraderie. It’s not anything mean-spirited, it’s just the way we act in the fire station and it’s just friendly joking around and making fun of me. I’m sure it’ll slow down a tad bit later in the year.
WW: Did you know any of the other people on the calendar?
RB: Two others are from Boulder, so three of us total are in it from Boulder, and I am friends with both of them. In the beginning, it made it a lot more exciting to be chosen with them, because I’m going into this with two other guys I know. I don’t really know any of the other firefigthers in the calendar at this point, but I assume I’ll get to know them and probably become friends with them, hopefully lifetime friends.
WW: Can you tell me about the application process?
RB: Originally there’s an application, which you can do online or by mail, and it asks a series of questions and it also asks you to send in a photo of your choice, and then after you send that in, you get a call to tell you that you’re in the judging event, which was held in April. It was a catwalk-type event where they called us out, one by one, asked us various silly questions. We had to answer them kind of on the fly, and we went out twice -- one time was with our dress Bs, class Bs uniforms, not our nicest uniforms but the second-nicest, and the second was with the bunker pants, pants we use for firefighting, and oiled-up rest of the body.
WW: Were you nervous?
RB: I almost didn’t do it, I was so nervous. I just about turned away at the last minute. I was sweating like crazy, I have a bald head and it was just pouring down my face, and I look at the lady who was helping us, and I say, "Am I sweaty looking?" and she said, "No, why, are you nervous?" and I said, "No, I’m downright scared." But I did it because I knew my wife would be terribly upset. Miraculously, my nerves went away the minute I went up there. Leading up to it was terribly nervewracking -- over a thousand people there. I’ve never experienced over a thousand women drinking, screaming and yelling at me.
WW: What has been the most rewarding part of participating in the calendar for you so far?
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RB: I haven’t gotten into it that much yet. So far all I’ve gotten to do was that event I just told you about, and I’ve been helping promote it through TV and the radio, which has been just a kick in the pants for me, to do something different that I’ve never done. I’ve been having a good time with it. That’s really all I’ve done so far, I haven’t gotten to go to the Burn Center yet and met the kids, and that’s what I’m looking forward to myself the most because working with children is what I wanted to do from the start. I have a soft spot. I have two of my own and I’m on the public education team in Boulder, where I go and do safety talks with the kids during fire prevention week. We work with the kids pre-school through fourth grade. I like the little kids myself.
WW: Anything else you want to tell us about your experience?
RB: You’re getting the whole event for Friday, right? It’s a nice excuse for girls to go out and have a night of just the girls. My wife and her friends are planning on even the following years. They’re planning to make it a yearly thing for them, they had so much fun last year.