I Went to a Firefighters Singles Party and Couldn’t Find a Single Man to Rescue Me

In an effort to understand the fetish for firefighters, I spent Friday night at a singles mixer marketed for women to meet New York City’s bravest men.

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I Went to a Firefighters Singles Party and Couldn’t Find a Single Man to Rescue Me
Photo:Getty Images

Let it be known that some may find my taste in men bordering on bizarre. You might like a mustachioed pilot, sun-bleached skateboarder, or, perhaps a really hands-on TikTok chef. I, however, am more into…graying fathers. John Turturro! Michael Imperioli! And yeah, this guy. And if, for instance, yours happens to be a paunchy attorney or a tenured professor in a sweater vest, well, lock him up before I do.

Displays of good old-fashioned, ultra-traditional masculinity—too often teetering on machismo—don’t do much for me. I’ve never gone gaga for a man in uniform, rubbed one out to the notion of being saved, nor have I ever fantasized about a firefighter in suspenders—not even the fake ones on TV or in strip clubs. And please, don’t even get me started on police porn. I’m staunchly anti-prison industrial complex and kink-shaming, but the people watching that should be in jail—this one, specifically.

That said, I know it’s common and a lot of people do in fact have a first-responder fetish. Many of my friends, for instance. And because I am nothing if not an insatiable investigator, I recently spent a Friday night at a singles mixer marketed for women to meet New York City’s bravest men. Yes, I subjected myself to an event exclusively for women to meet the firefighter/EMT (all firefighters are classified as such) of their daydreams. Just because I’m turned on by someone’s academic father doesn’t mean I’m not curious enough to interrogate why entire events eroticizing firefighters exist. (I will note with a raised eyebrow that the folks behind this event don’t appear to hold one that caters exclusively to female—or queer, for that matter—first responders.)

Screenshot: (Other)

Held at an innocuous (and quite intimate) drinking hole in NYC’s financial district, the soiree promised the area’s “hottest” first responders and was advertised for those who wished to “snag” their “very own hero.” Spoiler alert: A few attendees were hot, but I didn’t snag a thing. I didn’t even get wet. In fact, by the end of the night, I was so dry that my chafing thighs could’ve ignited a blaze that burnt the whole place down. Here’s everything that happened.

8:05 p.m.: There’s a line to get into this party. An actual, honest-to-goodness line with wristbands and a handful of people peeved when their names aren’t immediately found on the guest list. The bar is narrow, giving the illusion that it’s packed—only it’s not an illusion. I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with a lot of hopeful singles. I can’t yet be sure, but on the first scan of this establishment, it appears as if I’m the youngest person here.

8:08 p.m.: Enough bodies have cleared to reveal a neon sign that reads #Let’sGetSocial hanging at the entrance. It’s that kind of place. “Too Close” blares. I’m entirely too sober to be greeted by a song about being unable to hide a boner.

8:10 p.m.: The very first thing I overhear (in a New Jersey accent as thick as porchetta): “It’s fuckin’ toasty in here, bro.” I concur, but I assumed it was because I’ve chosen to wear a truly shapeless wool sweater. To be clear, this is research, not recreation.

8:15 p.m.: Two kindly women, Madeline* and Shannon*, make room for me to sidle up to the bar and order a drink. The latter is noticeably more engrossed in a conversation they’re having with two men—both donning H&M variations of a Hawaiian shirt. I order a Corona Extra—which I don’t even like, I’m just oddly nervous. Conveniently, my breath will reek like a skunk’s asshole for the rest of the evening.

8:19 p.m.: I lean against the lip of the bar to take stock of the scene. The vibe is homecoming circa 2006 in the sense that the playlist is comprised entirely of old rap and R&B, and most of the men here are just…lining the perimeter, backs against the wall.

8:21 p.m.: Madeline and I strike up a conversation. I learn she’s been single for three years and attends events like this on a pretty regular basis in a bid to meet people. I tell her that’s admirable! After she suggests I join a “brunch club,” a man who looks like an older, balder, poor man’s Jon Bernthal approaches. He and Madeline have clearly already met, though he accuses her of not remembering his name. “Chris?” she guesses. Bernthal chuckles. His name is definitely not Chris, but I don’t care enough to hear how he corrects her.

8:23 pm: Madeleine informs me that I should have gotten a “scorecard” at the door, which is apparently “a card with like seven questions related to EMT stuff and you’re supposed to get a different man to help you answer each one,” she says. “It’s a way to facilitate mingling.” Eye roll. But I grab one anyway. It reads: “Meet Hot, Single Firemen and ‘Score’ A Prize.” What exactly the prize is, I never learn. I assume it’s probably a naked firefighter calendar or something.

Photo:Audra Heinrichs

8:24 p.m.: Not-Chris has lingered and helps me answer the first question: “Which of the following companies carry hose lines?” Engine Co. One down, six to go!

8:26 p.m.: “Whereabouts are you based in the city?” Not-Chris asks me. Madeline is distracted by Shannon who appears to be getting on like a house on fire with one of the Hawaiian shirt men. I tell him a borough, and his eyes bulge out of his cue ball head. “I used to be a cop around there,” he says.

“Wait,” I say. “I thought this was a party for EMTs only?

“Nope, police and military, too.” Fuck.

8:27 p.m.: Somehow, Not-Chris can’t tell that I’d rather lay down in the middle of Times Square than continue speaking with an off-duty police officer. “Are the gangs still bad up there?” he asks of my neighborhood, to which I respond that I don’t know. “Yeah, probably before your time,” he offers.

“Makes sense since I just turned 21,” I jest.

Not-Chris was also not anticipating that. “Have a good night,” he says, curtly. “See ya, officer!” For the record, I’m almost 30. But good for him.

8:35 p.m.: I return to the bar and get hit on by a firefighter that’s a dead ringer for Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and stands at eye-level with my chin. He introduces himself as Nate* and his breath reminds me of how your fingers smell after reaching into a bag of Funyuns. We’re not able to have much of a meaningful conversation, as he honks out a “HUH?” after every single thing I say.

9:00 p.m.: “I feel like women don’t want firefighters anymore,” Nate laments in a room with a ratio of six women to every one man. “I think a few of my fellow men ruined it for all of us out here.”

“I hate when men do that,” I say.

“HUH?” “Nothing.” I ask him to elaborate, but he can’t offer a single piece of evidence to support his theory.

9:05 p.m.: Blessedly, Nate points out a friend standing by himself near the end of the bar. “See that guy? That’s Ray*, he’s an alcoholic.” I suggest we go and join him. “Really?” he asks.

“Yeah, I love alcoholics,” I tell him.

9:15 p.m.: Ray, as it happens, rocks. He’s an Aries who knows his entire birth chart, poses thoughtful questions like, “What the hell are you doing here?” and best of all, doesn’t smell like a Frito-Lay wrapper.

“How’d you guys find out about this event? Do the organizers recruit you?” I ask him.

“One of the fliers was pinned on our bulletin board at the firehouse,” he said.

9:30 p.m.: Ray and I are deep in conversation about why he became a firefighter (in short: 9/11) when I realize that Nate has moved on to a young woman that, at first glance, looks 14. I tell Ray and he rolls his eyes. “Classic,” he spits. “You don’t think she’s like, actually a teenager, right?” He shakes his head, and I toss back the final dregs of my Corona. “You know what?” Ray starts.


“You may look straight-laced, but you can fuckin’ party.” I’ve had but a singular beer, but I’ll take it!

9:45 p.m.: Andy*, a portly man with tattoos that snake from his wrists to his neck suddenly appears at our side. “This is my boss,” Ray explains. I ask if it’s weird to drink with your boss. No,” Andy answers for him. I make a low-effort joke that his accent sounds more like Wyoming than New York. “You’re funny,” he informs me and then stares for a beat too long: “And you got the prettiest fuckin’ face I’ve ever seen.” Again, I’ll take it.

9:50 p.m.: The bar has doubled capacity since my arrival, and “Thong Song’ is now playing. Meanwhile, Andy has taken to showing me each one of his tattoos. There’s a portrait of a woman donning only her bra stretching the entirety of his right bicep. He’s proud of this one, therefore I can’t resist teasing him a little bit more. “Andy, I think it’s really weird you got me tattooed on your arm,” I tell him. “We just met!” His face turns the color of a sauce-heavy eggplant parmigiana, and for the first time tonight, I breathe a sigh of relief I’m in a room of first responders.

9:55 p.m.: “I met this really nice lady,” Andy confides. “I think I’ll ask for her number.” He points to none other than Madeline, standing nearby amidst the melee. “You should!” I tell him. “I will,” he abruptly decides, ending our conversation.

10:00 p.m.: My scorecard is nearly full, not to brag, but before I can ask another question, Nate informs Ray and the others that they “gotta move on.” According to Ray, he’s frustrated he hasn’t scored any numbers yet.

10:06 p.m.: As Ray pays his bill, I discreetly order another beer. I’ve been invited to join Ray, Nate, and their colleagues at the next bar. I tell them I’ll meet them after I finish my drink, gesturing toward the full beer. I won’t, of course.

10:08 p.m.: It’s become abundantly clear Ray thinks we have a future. “So, like, you’d date a firefighter?” he affirms. “Sure!” I say. “A few of my friends have.”

He asks if they’re still together. “No, but they were staunch conservatives,” I say, then ask if he’s one.

“Nah, I just don’t really give a shit about politics,” he says. “None of us do.”

10:09 p.m.: For a moment, it appears like Nate has changed his mind. He’s now engrossed with a woman wearing teal sparkly eye-shadow. I have time, so I ask Ray a pressing question of my own: “Do guys fuck in the firehouse like all the time?” “Not all the time,” he hems and haws. “But it’s happened.” I ask where. “The bathroom…a closet…the truck.” How uninspired.

10:15 p.m.: Finally, the group departs after I’ve reluctantly given Ray my number. “I’m sorry for leaving, but you know, these guys get impatient when things aren’t going their way,” he reasons. “Not me, I’ve laid the groundwork.” A bumptious smirk sits upon his mouth.

10:30 pm.: I pay my bill and wade through the sweaty throng toward the bathrooms. The dance floor—or, no man’s land—begs comparison to the gymnasiums of my teenagedom. Every which way there’s a woman dancing, laughing, or singing along. At the corner of the bar sit two girlfriends in attire similar to mine (comically oversized), grazing on plates of fried things and observing it all as if it were dinner theater. They catch my eye and smile. I nod back. “Where my sexy, independent ladies at?” the DJ asks, only to be met by actual screams. The men, it seems, just happen to be there—in case of emergency, perhaps. There’s not a scorecard in sight.

10:35 p.m.: I decide to head out as “Knuck If You Buck” winds down, because, well, it really can’t get better after that.

10:40 p.m.: “You come here alone?” a man asks me as I wait for my Uber. Yeah, I did. “Honestly, that’s really cool. I wouldn’t have the balls to do that.”

10:55 p.m.: A text from Ray arrives. He’s sorry they left and wants to see me another time. His guys “blocked him.” So shall I.

The following day, 10:53 a.m.: I pull my scorecard out of my jeans and make the startling discovery that I only needed two more answers. I wonder whether Madeline and Anthony will meet again and if anyone had any success last night. Sure, women appeared to be having fun, but why pay $27 to get through the door of a shitty bar when you can get in for free elsewhere? The likelihood of meeting a firefighter (or first responder) you’d actually want to see again seems about the same. While I was hoping for some sort of epiphany about the fantasy of first responders, it didn’t arrive. Like every other great fetish, they’re just people. Sometimes, cocky. Surprisingly shy. Funny and fallible. Savvy, and a little sad.

I look closer at my scorecard and realize one of the signees has lied. According to Google, the leading cause of fire is not cigarettes after sex. It’s cooking appliances. Sigh.

Read the rest of Jezebel’s Horny Week 2023 stories here.

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