At 40, and with a bit of a belly peeking over his belt, Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Douglas R. Simpkins Jr., decided modeling men's underwear wouldn't be a great idea, even to help raise money for a new rescue truck.
But there will be several willing models -- male and female -- at the fire hall Friday night, showing off a line of often sexy-looking underthings.
For a $7 "donation," up to 400 patrons will get free beer, pretzels and potato chips, and their lingerie orders are guaranteed to arrive before Valentine's Day.
It's all for a good cause. Simpkins said the proceeds will be split 50-50 between the Metropolitan Firefighters Burn Center at Francis Scott Key Hospital, and the Arbutus Volunteers, who have decided to use the money to help buy a $250,000 replacement for their 1969 Brockway rescue truck. They have saved $20,000 so far.
Since the volunteers lost the right to hold their highly profitable casino nights a few years back, Simpkins said, they have been scrambling to find ways to raise money for their $100,000-a-year budget and to replace expensive equipment such as the huge rescue truck.
When Anne Arundel County firefighter Claudia "Tina" Clark mentioned that she conducts lingerie parties to make a few extra dollars, Simpkins asked, "Why not do a big show?"
Simpkins is a paid firefighter in Anne Arundel County, but also serves as a volunteer at Arbutus.
Clark, 26, of Bowie, said she attended a lingerie party at a friend's house and signed up with Cameo Coutures Inc., a company based in Dallas, to begin selling lingerie herself. She is the mother of a 15-month-old baby and another child is due in April, so an extra source of income is always welcome. She said she has sponsored about a dozen lingerie parties so far, usually at a private home for 10 to 15 women.
The size of the firehouse benefit has made her nervous, she said. The models will be customers from some of her past parties, and a few brave young firefighters, she said.
Simpkins said his members will make sure no one has too much to drink or gets too rowdy during the evening, and Clark said she has never been to an event sponsored by firefighters that wasn't properly run.
Dawn Colussi, 26, another Arbutus volunteer, said she has no qualms about the lingerie show, though she may not be able to attend. "It's not really exploiting anything. It's just people out to have fun. That is what draws a crowd," she said.
A large crowd is exactly what the Arbutus volunteers need to help them raise another $80,000 so they can get a loan and buy their new truck.
The current truck is one of six in the county, Simpkins said, and only volunteer companies have them. The truck carries every imaginable kind of rescue equipment, including the prying tools that can rip the roof off a car to rescue crash victims.
It has lifting devices strong enough to raise a railroad train car. The Amtrak tracks run right in front of the station, in the 5200 block ofSouthwestern Blvd. The truck was used to help rescue victims of the 1987 Amtrak train wreck in Chase, Simpkins said.
The truck underwent a major exterior overhaul in 1984, and the engine was rebuilt, for the third time, in 1988, at a cost of $18,000, he added. The manufacturer of the custom-built truck body no longer exists, and parts are getting harder and harder to find -- thus the plan for replacement.
Simpkins said the truck went on 285 calls last year.