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Hot Lexington firefighters pose to raise money for charity

Stephanie Baldwin couldn't pick a favorite.

"I like the one with the muscles and the abs," she said, eying a row of buff firefighters who stood a little awkwardly under a mirror ball as an announcer proclaimed Lexington's The Moon nightclub "on fire" because of their "hotness."

"And that," Baldwin said, "would be all of them."

Baldwin, known to her friends as a firefighter aficionado, was out Thursday on a "field trip" to explore the first-ever calendar featuring Lexington firefighters. The calendar, and Mr. January through Mr. December, were unveiled at a signing event and date auction.

The Lexington Fraternal Order of Firefighters put together the event and will sell the calendars for $15 each. The group hopes to raise $6,000 for its Christmas toy drive.

The words "hey, but it's for the kids" were brought up often in recruiting models, said Nicholas Newman, the group's president.

He said he and photographer and fellow firefighter Frank Handshoe picked guys they thought would fit the gritty look they were going for. All are in good shape, and most have shaved heads or closed-cropped hair.

None was harder to convince than Newman's on-the-job partner, Travis Gilliam, now also known as Mr. June.

"He was worried about what the guys would say," Newman said.

Gilliam said he's glad he agreed, although being oiled up for his photo shoot was an unusual experience. And, he said, the guys at the firehouse have goaded him. Just what they've said, he added, is "nothing that you can print in a newspaper."

Alice Bruner had a lot to say about Mr. January — her husband, Jeremy Bruner, who also graces the cover of the calendar.

"This is what I've known for 12 years," she said, holding up the calender featuring her husband's rippling, smudged abs. "I just want Lexington to know what I've known for all these years."

Her daughter, Kennedy, 7, has a line ready if women flirt: "Hey, chick, that's my Dad. Keep walking."

For her part, Alice Bruner is less worried than proud. "Just being with him makes me look good," she said with a smile.

Mary Clark, Alice Bruner's sister, said she mostly knows her brother-in-law as a guy with three kids and a minivan. The calender has inspired her to try to find a firefighter of her own.

"Jeremy," she said, pointing to Mr. July, Nathan Cornelius, "is that one single?"

Projecting a more old-school firefighter look, with a thick mustache and a bit of a beer belly, Steve Gilliam was enjoying a cold one just away from the hubbub of the signing.

He was surprised that his shy, modest son is now Mr. June. But, he said, Travis Gilliam has the family's support. "Both of his grandmothers want calendars," he said.