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SEPTEMBER 19-25, 2008

The intense screeching from overly made-up girls pierces my ears as I walk into Turtle Bay, a red-lacquer divey bar on the corner of Second Avenue and 52nd Street. It’s the launch party for the City of the Brave Firefighters of NYC 2009 Calendar, and firemen—along with the women who love them—are densely packed, muscle to cleavage.

“Women come here to mingle with the men,” the PR rep explains to me as I swipe two calendars (one for the bathroom!). It does not disappoint: Each month showcases a bona fide FDNY firestud—shirtless, brawny and glistening.

“My goal is to offer female fans of FDNY firefighters the chance to meet these brave heroes, with the opportunity to have drinks, mingle and snag a date,” she says, snapping me back to reality. The women here are on a mission, and so am I.

I start by approaching one of the many Terminator types and learn that all the fighters are named Mike. All of them. I’m told they lie about their names in a halfhearted attempt to avoid “the FF groupies.”

“Really, groupies?” I ask one tight-teed dude. Yes, he says, and tells me that Staten Island and Brooklyn have the most.

I ask Bronx firefighter Mike (No. 1), how he copes with the women. “I don’t go out and say what I do.” Clever! Staten Island firefighter Mike (No. 2) also won’t reveal his profession because he says it’s cheesy. “Some girls are more into dating a fireman than the actual person,” adds Mike (No. 3). Mike (No. 4) fills me in: “Every girl here is a firefighter groupie.”

But I decide to hear what the females in attendance have to say about that.

I ask Kathy, 38, whose boyfriend Mike (of course!) is on the calendar’s cover, if she considers herself a fireman addict.

“Oh my god!” she squeals, “That’s my total fetish.” She describes meeting her beau in a club, checking out his body. (He is enormous.) “Then he told me he was a firefighter and I was like, ‘We can do this!’”

Like any good journalist, I ask her if they’ve had sex in the firehouse. “Not yet, but that’s my ultimate goal! On top of the truck like in the movies!”

Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” comes on, and I hear peals of “Ohmigod, it’s your sooong!” in heavy Queens accents.

When the song’s over, I’m introduced to another stud’s girlfriend, Rachel, 26, an auditor. “Do you recommend dating firefighters?” I ask. “No!” she’s quick to say. “They think they’re hot shit and they make no money. I bring in the majority of the money. That’s the hardest part of dating a firefighter.”

“Let’s say I still want to bag one of these guys. Any advice?” I ask. She’s quick with the response: “You give him head.”

Okay, then. We pose for photos and as Rachel lifts up her boyfriend’s shirt for effect, I’m reminded of something Katherine Kostreva, publisher of the calendar, wrote, “Firefighters should never seem unattainable.”

Mission accomplished.

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