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Men of Midtown — my V-Day date with Sarasota firefighters!

Could my Valentine’s Day have been any sweeter? I got to get kind of up close and person with some of the men who keep my city safe.

Sarasota County Fire Department Battalion 1 Lieutenant Craig Gerardi, Firefighter/EMT J.W. Boyette, Firefighter/Paramedics Stephen Willhoite and Todd Tedder, and volunteer Justin Miante.

Sarasota County Fire Department Battalion 1 Lieutenant Craig Gerardi, Firefighter/EMT J.W. Boyette, Firefighter/Paramedics Stephen Willhoite and Todd Tedder, and volunteer Justin Miante.

Here’s my Sense and the City column from today’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

On Valentine’s Day, I was at home, writing as usual. Occasionally I could hear the sirens of trucks leaving the nearby fire station, and was reminded of the one time I got up close and personal with the Sarasota Fire Department (assuming dreams don’t count).

A year or so back, a ginormous truck rumbled past my house and hit the wires stretched across the street between poles. In a flash, a thick, dangerous-looking wire whipped down from one pole, skittered across the driveway, smacked up against my mailbox, and finally come to rest, ominously, in the middle of the street. When I breathlessly reported the drama to the County, they said, “Stay away from the wire. We’re sending someone.”

And boy, did they. Send someone, that is. Two someones, in fact, who arrived within minutes. Two buff, very sexy, totally cool and confident firemen, who jumped from the red fire truck like heroic warriors ready to wrangle the wire.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I have a serious Jones for firemen. So, naturally, I spritzed some Chanel and gopped some lip gloss across my lips before running out the door to greet them. True professionals, they kept their distance from my bug-eyed, big-grin excitement, and focused on assessing the situation.

Turns out it was a cable television wire, not dangerous, and a crew would be coming to take care of it within a couple hours. All too soon, my heroes were back on their truck, headed home. I slunk back to my computer, feeling slightly guilty for fantasizing about how to get them back. (Burning a pizza to set off my fire alarm? Chasing one of my cats up a tree for rescue?)

Fireman fantasies aside, usually when I hear sirens I silently hope everyone’s okay and nobody’s losing a home. But for some reason this past Valentine’s Day, hearing the sirens and seeing the trucks barreling down the streets as they often do in my neighborhood, it struck me that the people I should really be sending “I’m sweet on you” cards to are the men and women of my local fire house.

So I dropped by Sarasota County Fire Department Station 2 on Waldemere Street to say hello to the guys and thank them personally. (I swear, I had no ulterior motive beyond wanting to thank them, but I’m not denying … these guys were hot!)

I was hesitant to interrupt the work day of firefighters and EMTs who might, at any moment, have to rush out to save a life or put out a fire, but a crew had just returned from a call, and Lieutenant Craig Gerardi, who was on duty as Acting Battalion Chief, graciously let me take a couple of photos. As the guys lined up, I noticed the image emblazoned on the side of the truck behind them – “Monsters of Midtown;” it said, (see image below) and I smiled at the bravado that must come with the territory of being a firefighter.

As I looked at the men through my camera lens, I couldn’t help but think back to 9/11, when so many firefighters didn’t flinch in the face of walking into the chaos and danger of that morning. “Bravery” sounds like an extraordinary understatement.

I hope the fire and rescue crew at Station 2 will accept this column as my belated Valentine to them — as a thank you to the cadre of highly trained, bold and brave, men and women who work all hours of the day and night, sometimes risking life and limb, to keep the homes, pets, and people of our community safe.

The fact that they look great while doing it? That’s just their year-round Valentine back to us.


Posted on February 17th, 2011Comments RSS Feed
5 Responses to Men of Midtown — my V-Day date with Sarasota firefighters!
  1. Could ya call me next time you`re headed down to the station ??*)

  2. Absolutely! There were more than enough gorgeous guys to go around! 😉

  3. Stephen Willhoite..
    February 18, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Thanks for the positive article.. Glad we could make it fun…

    Sincerely, Stephen Willhoite FF/P

  4. MC, I ran into a fund-raiser for one of the fire-fighters this afternoon at Evie’s, and they simply could not thank you enough for the truly wonderful piece you wrote in the Ticket. They asked me to make certain, to offer their “sincere” “Thank You” for everything. C’ya Tuesday!

  5. oh, jiminy, hawkeye — they shouldn’t be thanking me! i’m thanking them… for all they do. but thanks for relaying the message. wish i coulda been there!

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