Hispanic Society F.D.N.Y. CalendarBy Jose B. Rivera
Written and Submitted by By Jennifer Weil.
As a New York City firefighter with Ladder Company 12, Angel Juarbe Jr. saved lives. He was also an aspiring actor who loved animals and spending time with his family.Hector Luis Tirado Jr., a member Engine Company 23, was a father of five who hoped one day to attend medical school.
Both were proud of their heritage and shared a desire to help the Hispanic community. Last May, when executives from the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation proposed a 2002 calendar featuring firefighters and Emergency Medical Services personnel to raise money for the Hispanic Society F.D.N.Y., Juarbe and Tirado responded.
Juarbe enlisted others because the calendar was to benefit the society’s recruitment effort and scholarship fund. “He got on the phone and he started getting all the guys and girls lined up that were interested,” said Lt. Miguel Ramos, president of the Hispanic Society. “He was always one of the guys that I called up. He was a very active, outgoing type of guy.”
Tirado was also enthusiastic.“He was like, ‘Wow, I’m not a star, I’m not a model type, but it’s a big ego booster,’ ” said Richard Batista, 29, a firefighter with Engine 76. “I mean who doesn’t want to be in a calendar?”
Juarbe and Tirado, who auditioned with 70 men and 15 women last summer, were chosen as models and later posed for the photographer, D.C. Larue.But they never got to take their star turn. On Sept. 11, Juarbe, 35, and Tirado, 30, were among the 343 firefighters who died in the attack on the World Trade Center.
“We were literally put in shock,” said Jodi Mutnansky, marketing director for the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation in New York and the calendar’s coordinator.
The plan for a 12-month calendar to be in stores by late 2001 was dashed.“It would have been very inappropriate to do it that quickly,” Mutnansky said. “We needed time to chill out before we could get back to the normalcy of things.” The project eventually went forward, with some changes.
“We decided to go with it and make it a tribute calendar for Angel and Hector,” Ramos said.The Hispanic Society also had the blessing of the Juarbe and Tirado families.“If they are gone, at least they are going to be alive in our minds and hearts,” Juarbe’s mother, Miriam, said. “There’s no reason to forget them.
They are our heroes. You never forget our heroes, and the more exposure they have the more they will be remembered for the ultimate sacrifice.”
The calendar was reformatted to cover 18 months, starting with July 2002 and featuring photographs of 16 men and two women. Rather than follow the lead of fire department’s recent “Firehouse Hunks” calendars, the Hispanic calendar features models in more modest poses.
“We changed some of the pictures because they were a little too sexy,” said Batista, Mr. September 2002, who had his photo reshot to show his new tattoo, which commemorates the firefighters who died on Sept 11. “A lot of guys actually have sweaters and shirts on, showing minimal skin.”
As a personal tribute, Mutnansky said, Tirado (May) and Juarbe (July) are pictured on the months they were born. The Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, which owns the radio stations 105.9 FM and 1280 AM in New York, originally hoped to sell sponsorships for the calendar. That plan was scratched after Sept. 11, so the company absorbed the production costs.
The calendars are on sale for $10 at 26 Barnes & Noble locations in New York and New Jersey. They are also available through the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation’s Web site, http://www.netmio.com.
Editor’s Note: Though I never met Angel Juarbe Jr., I know people both at work and at home who knew him. All speak highly of him. Of his giving of his time to others, to educate them on the hazard’s of fire as he did when visiting school children in East Harlem’s Community School District # 4, and of being a good friend. He is sorely missed by all who knew him. And I can only wish that I had the pleasure of meeting this great man. (Left: Picture of Angel Juarbe, Jr) JBR