A few weeks ago, we told you about your chance to mix and mingle with the "Nation's Bravest" (read: hottest) pinup firefighters at Babeland SoHo on December 14. Today, we're prepping you with some talking points if you're looking to connect with Mr. New York, the charming, Brooklyn-bred Philip Sylvester. We talked to the self-deprecating Sylvester about what life in the firehouse is like, what he's looking for in a date, and, of course, his workout routine.
Let's start with the basics before we get into the good stuff. Do you want to tell me where you serve and how long you've been in the fire department? I am housed in Flatbush, the "Jolly Rogers," and I've been on for the past three years.
How did you become a firefighter? Was this something you've always wanted to do? I wanted to show off my dope cooking skills and fight the occasional fires! So it all worked out.
So how does a firefighter get recruited to be in these calendars? Well, there's a fax that comes over to each and every house. There's basic criteria you have to follow in terms of personality, looks and extra curricular activities. So you submit a little bio of yourself, you have a face-to-face interview and then you're selected.
So you nominated yourself? Or do your buddies nominate you? No, I definitely nominated myself. When you see the fax come over it's up to you to venture your name out, if you so choose to be that bold.
Was there anyone else from your unit that applied? No, no, nobody else. [Laughs.] Some people can't because you're leaving yourself out there. As much as anybody would think it's that easy to just stand out there, shirtless, it's not. You're leaving yourself open to a lot of attention that maybe you don't want.
Gotcha. So is this a one time gig with the calendar? Can you only appear in it for one year? Yes, it's a one time deal only. One shot. I'm one out of 11,000.
I have to ask if you're single. Yes, I am single.
Are you hoping that this calendar could maybe help you meet a lady? (Or a gentleman!) No, I'm not hoping that this calendar will increase my chances of meeting a special someone because if I'm relying on the calendar to do that then I'm in dire straits as a person.
Do you get teased by other firefighters for doing this? Oh, definitely! Lots of gentle ribbing. As gentle as it gets in the firehouse, which is not gentle at all. But it's all in good fun, it's all in good fun. It definitely helps ground you. This calendar has been a great ego boost and sometimes that can be very unhealthy.
What do you mean? I mean in terms of thinking too highly of yourself. Nobody is really that important. I mean, you get a lot of attention at times. It's nice to be important, but it's very important to be nice.
Can you tell me what the scariest incident you've had on the job has been? Any time I walk through these doors it's scary because you never know what to expect. It can be a myriad of car accidents or maybe, occasionally, really bad fires. Intense heat. We go to a wide range of emergencies. The scariest part is when you finally get your radio and you're on duty. Expect the unexpected.
What's a "typical" day in the firehouse like? On a basic day we gather at roll call, assign positions to each and every person that's riding that day and we go on with our day, starting with our committee work. We're very domesticated. We have to clean the house, straighten up, get the kitchen tight and look to get a meal. So we'll go to the supermarket, that's how you guys see us. That's usually in the morning. We go pick up lunch and we'll bring it back and usually we either have training at Randall's Island. That's where our training facility is. Or we'll have building inspection, which we have nine hours a week. So we either have A.M. or P.M. session from 10 in the morning to 1 P.M. or 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. So the days are pretty packed.
When you're off duty, when you're just out socially and you tell people that you're a firefighter, how do they react? "Oh, that's an interesting, dangerous job." Most people do. "How do you feel doing that? It must be exciting." But it's not so much that they fawn over me because I'm a firefighter.
They don't? Nah, I wouldn't say that. [Laughs.] I mean, I wouldn't go out of my way to say what my profession is.
You don't walk around shirtless all that much, generally. No, no, I don't. Only for pictures.
What do you do to prepare for this? I assume you work out a lot. What's your workout routine? Well, I work out routinely, mostly high intensity cardio, running in the field, sprinting. A lot of wind sprints and leg room training, mostly because I'm an athlete. I played eight years of football in high school and college combined and now I play rugby on the fire department team.
Are you from New York? Yes I am, born and bred.
Hometown boy. That's what we like to hear. Yes, indeed. I live in Canarsie, Brooklyn. It's not too far from [the department in] Flatbush.
One of my co-workers wanted to know if there's—on a more serious note—anything that our readers can do to support a local firehouse. You could definitely change your batteries, your smoke alarm and your CO2 detector routinely. Follow those to a tee and all your fire safety. Don't clog your hallways and staircases. We don't really care what happens in your apartment—it's up to you to keep it nice and tidy—but your public halls and spaces should definitely be clear, it helps everyone out involved.
So you'll be at this event on December 14th, this calendar get-together with all of the pinups? Yes, all of the Nation's Bravest because we are the bravest out of the nation, so they say. [laughs]
Have you met any of the other firefighters? I know they're from all over the country. Yeah we all met together in August—we had a media tour and a big party.
Do you get competitive with each other? Over whose biceps are bigger? [Laughs.] I read routinely so I don't have dumbbells for brains, I'm not into that. I'm an athlete by trade but that's not what I'm all about.
If you had to describe what you're "all about," what would you say? An enigma wrapped inside a mystery.
Oh come on! [Laughs.] I don't take myself too seriously. I enjoy having fun, I enjoy poking fun at myself.