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Central Whidbey fireman deemed ‘Mr. October’

Firefighter Jerry Helm. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Firefighter Jerry Helm.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Firefighters are known for putting out fires, not starting them. And yet Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue fireman Jerry Helm is purposefully heating things up. But Helm is not scorching houses; he’s just showing off his washboard abs.

Coupeville’s Helm was chosen to be Mr. October for the 2011 Washington State Firefighters Calendar. Since 1996, the Washington State Council of Firefighters has been producing a yearly calendar to raise money for the Burn Foundation.

The Burn Foundation conducts medical research, sends children with burn injuries to summer camp and provides funds for smoke detectors for low-income residents among other projects.

According to the Council of Firefighters’ website, its calendar was the No. 1 firefighter calender sold nationally in 2003, and the calendar continues to bring in sales in each of the 50 states.

Helm applied for a spot in the calendar because he believes in the cause.

“It’s just something that I’ve wanted to do for a while,” he said. “I know Central Whidbey did a calendar in 2003, and we got a good a response for it.”

Helm had the opportunity to visit children at a burn camp and said it was a sobering experience.

“Everybody associates firefighters with being brave and courageous, but I met a couple kids there with serious injuries that just have all the strength in the world, and I’m jealous,” he said.

After applying, Helm had to strut his stuff in front of an estimated 250 to 300 people at the Showbox theater in Seattle this May. Helm competed against 50 other firefighters for his position, which required him to dance around on stage and take questions from the judges.

Helm said there are 29 firefighters featured in the calendar, and that the photo shoot for the pages took about two days.

“I’m not going to say I was the most comfortable person there,” he said laughing, “but it was a pretty good time.”

This year’s calendar has a Sept. 11 memorial theme since 2011 marks the tragedy’s 10-year anniversary. The calendar was unveiled about two weeks ago, and the featured heroes have been doing autograph signings and public appearances ever since.

Helm said his steamy photo has caused him to be the target of a few jokes at the fire station, but they’re not anything he can’t handle.

“The teasing is all in good fun,” he said.

A schedule of future signing events, information about donating to the Burn Foundation and ordering the calendar can all be found online at www.firefightercalendar.org.

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