It may be a stereotype that all firefighters are soft-hearted hard-bodies who rescue kittens stuck in trees, but for at least one, it happens to be true.
Burnaby native Michael Cvitkobich is a Delta firefighter who recently took off his shirt to reveal his fit frame for the 2013 Greater Vancouver Fire Fighters' Hall of Flame Calendar, which raises money for charity.
"Mr. August" has also been called to save a cat from a tree while on duty.
"We had to use a ladder in a backyard - it was very precarious," he said.
The calendar is an annual fundraiser for the Vancouver Fire Fighters' Charitable Society, which will donate money from sales to the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters' Association Burn Fund and the CKNW Orphans' Fund.
Though saving lives is a regular occurrence for firefighters the world over, for Cvitkobich, modelling for the calendar was a unique experience in his career.
"I mean, it's a good laugh, it's a lot of fun, and it's a good cause," he said. "You do get ragged a lot at the fire hall from all the guys, and uncles and family members give you a hard time, but it's a lot of fun, too."
Cvitkobich has been with the Delta fire department for the past four years. He started his career at 21, after working as a lifeguard since the age of 16. Having that type of work experience was helpful in beating out hundreds of other applicants for the job, he said.
"I think the fact that I took all those extra courses and the fact that I was a lifeguard with Burnaby for so long, being a very similar job in a lot of ways, it helped a lot," he said.
Posing for the calendar was easy enough, said Cvitkobich, but the job of being a "calendar guy" this year doesn't just involve one photo shoot. This weekend, he and the other 11 firefighters from around the Lower Mainland will be at several charity events in the coming months to help raise awareness of the charities and fundraise for the cause.
This weekend they will be in Abbotsford for the West Coast Women's Show, strutting their stuff in a fashion show on October 20.
More than $1 million has been raised for charity in the 26 years the calendar has been produced.
The calendars are available at London Drugs, Save On Foods, online, at www.vancouverfirefight ers.ca, and at the Women's Show from Oct. 19 to 21.