Original Published on Sep 28, 2022 at 17:06
By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
For months volunteer members of the Powassan Fire Department have been quietly meeting at several locations in Powassan and Trout Creek with other members of the municipality
Only a handful of people knew why and now events coordinator Kathie Hogan has let the cat out of the bag.
Hogan says throughout the year, the firefighters have allowed themselves to be photographed in various poses for a 2023 Firefighters Calendar that officially gets released October 1.
Hogan took a page from the North Bay Fire Department which she says has a very successful firefighters calendar but adds because of Powassan’s rural setting there was no way Powassan could duplicate the city look.
“So what we have instead is a slice of life in Powassan”, she said.
“That’s why our pictures will have things like farm animals and pumpkins with our firefighters.”
Hogan came up with the calendar idea in 2019 as a fundraiser but then was forced to put it on the backburner when COVID-19 arrived.
But with the pandemic easing up somewhat, the firefighters calendar once again became a topic of discussion.
The goal was to have the pictures coincide with the seasons and the work started in earnest this past March while there was still snow.
Terry Lang, the municipality’s Information Technology manager created the staging for the firefighters and began photographing them in different settings.
All participating firefighters are in their fire gear from the waist down and each is shirtless.
The March shoot captured the images that would become the January, February and March months and Lang orchestrated other shoots as the months progressed.
Hogan says it wasn’t easy convincing the firefighters to pose, especially without shirts.
“But what surprised me was that the young guys said ‘absolutely not’ and they’re the ones that have the bodies,” Hogan said.
Hogan says the older firefighters were more cooperative but eventually some of the younger firefighters caved in considering what the money from the calendars would be used for.
In this case it’s creating and maintaining two outdoor ice rinks in Trout Creek and Powassan.
Fire Prevention Officer Ben Mousseau says the firefighters annually create the rinks and maintain them over the winter.
He says the department has the advantage of being able to use the fire trucks to water the rinks but when it comes to clearing the ice of snow over the winter, the firefighters use their personal snowblowers.
Mousseau says the money raised from the calendars will buy things like snowblowers so the firefighters don’t have to use their personal equipment.
Mousseau was one of Hogan’s first “casualties” in that he is Mr. February and was part of the March shoot.
“It was not comfortable at all,” Mousseau told The Nugget.
“I only had on my bunker gear pants, helmet, boots and no shirt. And yes it was a little chilly.”
Mousseau, who is heavily involved in the creation of the winter ice rinks, said it was because of “pressure” from Hogan and his wife and what the proceeds would be used for that he finally relented.
“I also took solace in that I wasn’t alone since some of the other fellows also took part,” Mousseau said.
As Mr. February, Mousseau is outside partially decked out in his gear roasting marshmallows over a fire.
Hogan says the October picture was just taken and features firefighter Rob Giesler lying in a bunch of pumpkins and like Mousseau he’s shirtless.
Hogan says another image pays homage to the Beatles album Abbey Road.
The iconic picture has the Fab Four walking across the street with the Abbey Road studios pictured in the background.
Hogan says the local picture was taken in Trout Creek and traffic had to be blocked for a time so Lang could photograph the firefighters also walking across a street.
The July image features most of the firefighters fully dressed and posing in front of ‘Big Red’ the department’s 100 foot ladder truck with some holding the Canadian flag.
Although Lang took all the monthly pictures, Hogan snapped a shot of Fire Chief Bill Cox and he’s on the calendar’s front.
Hogan says Beatty Printing of North Bay has printed 600 calendars and adds Almaguin Community Economic Development (ACED) donated funds to help offset the printing costs.
The calendars cost $20 apiece and Hogan says a second print will be ordered if the first run sells out quickly.
Powassan businesses stepped in to support the calendar by sponsoring a page and their business name is below each month that they sponsored.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli was also a sponsor.
The public can buy the calendars at various stops at this Saturday’s Great Pumpkin Tour.
The sites along the pumpkin tour where the calendars are available are Krause Farms Food and Feed, Adagio Farms, Wand Family Farm, Foxfire Heritage Farm and Powassan Home Hardware.
Hogan says following the pumpkin tour the remaining calendars will be available at several businesses in the community.
And should the municipality repeat the calendar project, Hogan has a warning for the firefighters who think they got off scot-free this year by not posing for any of the months.
She says she’ll be gunning for this group the next time.