Watch behind the scenes of the Australian Firefighters Calendar photo shoot

Rookie: Nathan has been surprised by how popular the calendars are internationally.

Rookie: Nathan has been surprised by how popular the calendars are internationally.

It takes a special breed of person to work in emergency services. They regularly put their life on the line to save others, have seen things most of us don't even want to imagine and are often the ones we rely upon when things go wrong.

So when an Australian firefighter said that he became involved in charity work because it provided the opportuity to give "back more to the community than just our role at work", that's taking it to a whole other level.

The men involved in the Australian Firefighters Calendar became involved because they wanted to raise money to help their communities.

Australian Firefighters Calendar - dogs

The firie on the cover of this year's dogs calendar (there are six calendar themes), Nathan, said seeing the support provided to Healing Hooves, an organisation that helps children with autism and Asperger's, inspired him to apply.

"From that moment I had to be involved. We get to see where the donated funds go, we visit with the organisations that the calendar supports, it's really humbling and it gives you a sense of pride," he said. This year Nathan is looking forward to supporting BackTrack.

" I had no idea what BackTrack did until the photoshoot. I had the great pleasure of meeting Bernie Shakeshaft who started the organisation as was able to spend time listening about the work they do there with disaffected youth.

"I was able to spend a small amount of time with the kids that came with Bernie, it's a vital organisation doing great work in tough area. I hope to go to Armidale later in the year with some of the other firefighters to visit Bernie and the boys again," he said.

Jeff, who graces the cover of the cat calendar, has been involved in the project for nine years.

"When I think back to why I started the real reason has never changed: we are able to give something more back to the community than just our role at work," he said.

Back for the ninth time: Jeff returns for the opportunity to help charities.

Back for the ninth time: Jeff returns for the opportunity to help charities.

"We can affect positive change by giving some of our time in trade for people buying the calendar, and in turn helping those who really need it.

"This year there are multiple charities that will be receiving donations from the calendar - the animal calendars in particular are associated with some incredible animal charities.

"Safe Haven Animal Rescue is a not for profit that does vital work, they rescue and care for dogs and cats to find these animals forever homes. And Pets of the Homeless is another charity that provide an amazing service: they help provide food, vet care, and any other needs for animals whose carers are at risk of or are currently experiencing homelessness. It is easy to see why we love to be a part of the calendar with such deserving charities," Jeff said.

Both men nominated a recent visit to Taiwan for a photoshoot with the New Taipei City Fire Department as a recent highlight of being involved in the calendar.

For Nathan, who said he had no idea how popular the calendar was internationally, it was an eye-opener.

"I wasn't prepared for what that was going to be like. 300 people turned up to one press conference. It's a really unusual feeling having people taking your photo all day."

Jeff is more used to the attention, and knows how it can be harnessed for good. In relation to the New Taipei City FD shoot he said the firies were able to donate money to an animal refuge shelter.

"We visited that shelter last year which sent their adoption rates through the roof. Animal welfare is very close to my heart so this was such a rewarding experience," he said.

Shooting the cover - behind the scenes

Apart from the immense popularlity of the calendars, the other thing that has surprised Nathan about his involvment is the comeraderie.

"I have found really surprising is how everyone gets along. There are firefighters from all over Australia at the photoshoot and different events, they are great people to be around, I really enjoy their company," he said.

Jeff has a perspective honed from many years of calendar experience.

"Over the years the calendar has changed quite a bit, but the one thing that consistently surprises me the most is how happy people are when they get their calendar.

"The fact that something so simple can bring someone so much happiness amazes me sometimes. Ultimately this and what that calendar represents in terms of donations to the community is what keeps old buggers like me coming back."

Over the past 27 years the calendar has donated just over $3 million to various charities around the country from the Children's Hospital Foundation in most states to smaller lesser known local charities across the country.

  • Australian Community Media is a media partner with the Australian Firefighters Calendar.