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Hot Bodies: Calendar of area firefighters creates steam for a worthy cause

By Ed Brock

Debbie Harris is willing to share her husband, Henry County Fire Department Sgt. Dwayne Harris, with all of the women of Atlanta.

And she's not jealous that his picture will be gracing any number of walls along with 16 other Atlanta area firefighters in the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation's Hotlanta Firemen Calendar.

"It looks good and it's a great cause," she said.

For four years the foundation has produced the calendar and in that time it has raised $100,000 to support its mission of educating the public on burn prevention, supporting medical facilities that treat burns and assisting burn victims. This year Harris and two of his Henry County colleagues, Sgt. Jeff Sheffield and Firefighter/EMT Danny Lankford, along with Clayton County Fire Department Paramedic Sgt. Leroy Travis, successfully competed to be on the calendar.

"We saw last year's calendar," Harris said, referring to Lankford, his work out partner. "Some guys showed it to us so we trained for it. It gives you something to work out for."

Harris, like the other Henry and Clayton firefighters, had never competed before.

"I worked out before when I was younger but I just got into it last year and started working out really hard," said 34-year-old Harris, a 7-year veteran of the department.

Harris said she's proud of her husband for the work he put in to get on the calendar.

"It was a sacrifice. He was at the gym for three hours every day," Harris said. "We have two kids and he didn't get to see them much."

Sheffield, 33, has been with the department for 13 years and is on the January page of the calendar. He said that the other firefighters and he had to compete initially against 50 other contestants. The field was narrowed down to 25 and a panel of female judges chose the final 16 at a special event.

Thursday night Sheffield and the others kicked off the promotional campaign for the calendar at a pre-release party at Rendezvous on Ashford Dunwoody Road. He said he's looking forward to attending more promotional events.

"It's fun getting together and meeting people," Sheffield said. "As firefighters we're already pretty involved with the boot drive (another fundraiser for the foundation that occurs in June)."

For Travis, who at 46 has been working out since he was a 19-year-old soldier in the Army, the hardest part of competing for a place in the calendar was the radio interview they had to give in the final stages of the contest.

"That was just a little bit nerve-wracking," Travis said, adding that his experience as a member of the Clayton County Toastmasters helped him through it.

Travis, who is on the April page, said he doesn't plan to make bodybuilding competition a habit.

"My discipline is basically for health," Travis said. "You ride in the back of the truck as a paramedic with people coughing and it's easy to get sick if you're not in shape."

But Lankford, 21, said he's going to look into competing in the next couple of years.

The only single firefighter of the Clayton and Henry County group, Lankford is a 2? year veteran of the department and is on the November page with Harris. He is open to the social opportunities the calendar presents.

Lankford said a crowd of around 300 women attended the Rendezvous event where they signed calendars from 9 to 11 p.m.

"Once the calendars were signed a lot of people started leaving," Lankford said.

But Lankford and the others stayed until nearly 2 a.m.

The GFBF also sponsors Camp Oo-U-Law that is exclusively for burn-injured children.