RHYLL: Thanks for your time, Fred. There are a lot of firemen in romance novels. What makes fire fighting such a suitable profession for a romance novel hero/heroine?
FRED: Firemen are fetishised, aren’t they? Anyway, believe it or not, this job is perfect for the delivery of love missives. We use more paper and email than people think, plus we have lockers where you could slip in a note.
RHYLL: Is a cute meet between hero and heroine possible?
FRED: Oh yeah, a cute meet over a false alarm, a real fire, a backyard blaze, visiting the kindergarten or something. Lots of opportunities.
RHYLL: And is there opportunity for eye-fucking?
FRED: Of course. What else is there to do when you’re in a helmet, hot as Hades and the fire’s under control?
RHYLL: Does this career involve someone in authority with the power to keep you apart from a loved one and thus fan the flames of your desperate longing?
FRED: We don’t fan the flames, we try to put them out! But yeah, different shifts/stations can be hell on firey couples.
RHYLL: Any opportunity for discrete groping?
FRED: Locker rooms, showers, getting into and out of trucks. It can happen anywhere if you’re discrete.
RHYLL: Excellent. What's the potential for mistakenly overheard conversations like?
FRED: Good. Could happen in locker rooms, showers, training, confined space of the fire truck, radio conversations.
RHYLL: Is there scope for shenanigans with the photocopier?
FRED: We have a photocopier, but there are much better places for shenanigans.
RHYLL: (Fans self.) Does much self-disclosure happen in this job?
FRED: It can happen, especially with kid visits and kids’ questions. They are always a surprise and you can answer without thinking. Plus, sometimes under stress the strangest things happen.
RHYLL: Do fire fighters have a common character flaw that could serve as a barrier to romance?
FRED: Oh yeah, workaholics abound, plus those with the desire to protect. We’re also in danger quite often, so lots of barriers. Sometimes heavy off-duty drinking goes with fireys, and some are gym junkies. We’re kind of compulsive people.
RHYLL: What special qualities do fire fighters display?
FRED: Alpha attributes. Courage—some people call it craziness, some selflessness. We just say it’s our job.
RHYLL: What's sexy about your job?
FRED: We’re a team working together to achieve a common goal. I guess the uniform and the truck are always called sexy. Plus those firey calendars!
RHYLL: So, is it true that all fire fighters have the bodies of Greek gods/goddesses?
FRED: Full-time fireys can spend hours in the gym waiting for call outs and honing their bodies. On-call fireys aren’t quite so lucky (they have day jobs and just run out for fire calls).
RHYLL: Who's hotter, fire fighters or soldiers?
FRED: Fireys! We get uniforms better than military ones, ours have helmets and sometimes breathing gear too.
RHYLL: Competitive much? What are the tools of the trade?
FRED: Items that we use for rescue, knives, axes, steel saws, jaws of life, etc.
RHYLL: Any special skills?
FRED: For a small station we rock a good party! Plus, rescue is our middle name.
RHYLL: Some romance writers love a good abduction scene. Are fire fighters any chop at abduction?
FRED: You could hide someone in the truck I guess. People expect firemen to carry distressed people, so you could probably walk out with someone and no one would even remember.
RHYLL: Noice! Thanks, Fred.
(Note: score would have been higher if a firey calendar had been supplied with interview answers. So the agronomists beat the pants off you, Fred.)