Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen has put the kibosh on plans for a steamy 2018 charity calendar.
Last year’s calendar of shirtless local firefighters was a hot seller.
But Olsen said the calendar isn’t in line with the department’s mission statement that calls for its members to act with integrity, professionalism and compassion.
“We want you to be able to hang that calendar on the wall at your office or your refrigerator at home,” he said. “That type of calendar doesn’t portray that image.”
Those who supported the effort say it was a popular idea that in the past has raised money that benefited the community.
“From our perspective, it’s not our top priority, but we thought it was a good cause,” said fire union treasurer Trevor Towey. “We thought it was done tastefully.”
The 2017 calendar featured topless male firefighters holding dogs from local shelters.
“Who doesn’t like a man with a dog?” said one Facebook post promoting the calendar. “You may not be able to take the firefighter home, but you can sure take a rescue dog home!”
A woman replied: “I already have two dogs. Can I rescue a firefighter instead?”
The calendar’s cover said Omaha Professional Firefighters across the top, along with the local union’s logo and a logo for the First Responders Foundation, which received the proceeds. The foundation supports police and fire departments.
The calendars were sold for $10 at a number of locations, including local groceries and bookstores.
It’s unclear how much money was raised, though it helped buy the department an advanced thermal imaging camera that cost several thousand dollars.
The calendars didn’t raise money for the union, though the union helped promote and sell them.
“From an anecdotal standpoint, we sure sold a lot of them,” said fire union President Steve LeClair.
A handful of similar calendars have been made by local firefighters in the last 15 years.
Olsen said he also opposed last year’s calendar when it came to his attention and sent a letter about it to the First Responders Foundation. He made the decision about next year’s calendar earlier this year.
He noted that the department has a great relationship with the foundation and that the foundation understood.
Ray Somberg, president and executive director of the First Responders, said his group is no longer involved “in any way.”
Photos for next year’s calendar had already been taken when the administration voiced their concerns, LeClair said.
“That’s fully within their prerogative,” he said. “I understand that.”
Olsen said he would support a calendar that’s palatable to a broader audience. He said he’s offered some suggestions, but they haven’t gone anywhere.
“We want to be able to portray a positive image that all community members could be proud of,” he said.