Fresno firefighters realized they were in the midst of a baby boom last year as the Fresno Fire Department kept sending out emails congratulating staff on the birth of their children.
It led to an idea – a group photo of nine newborns laying in a circle on their dads’ fire turnouts. The photo was received with an explosion of fiery love after it was shared on the department’s Facebook page last month.
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Among the comments: “I can’t deal *insert heart-eyes emoji.* Too freakin precious!” and “My HEARTTT.”
The babies have had a similar effect on their firefighter dads.
“I’ve always been a soft guy,” said firefighter Anthony Troncale, father of Elisa, “but now I’m even softer.”
Last year appears to be one of the highest for babies born to Fresno firefighters in recent history, at least based on congratulatory emails Mike McIntyre has been reading since he was hired by the department in 2008.
The babies-in-a-circle photo was taken by firefighters/photographers Chris Garcia and Matthew Silva in February but gained much of its social-media stardom after it was shared by the Fresno Fire Department in late October.
The creation was no easy feat. Garcia was on a ladder operating a camera hanging on photo equipment above the babies while Silva was on the ground clicking a remote operating the shutter. The image was then edited to remove arms and legs of parents, who kept popping into the shot to keep the infants from crying or rolling away.
The result: A perfectly cute circle of peaceful babes.
“These are just some of the latest additions to our Fresno Fire family,” Chief Kerri Donis said. “Blessings one and all!”
Information about some of the babies, per their firefighter fathers:
▪ Jett Henry, now almost a year and seven months old: “He’s like Wreck-It Ralph – he’s into everything,” said Josh Henry, 32. “He runs around the house with a baseball bat and golf club, opening doors and touching everything. He’s just 100 percent little boy.”
▪ Myla McIntyre, a year and seven months old: “Her middle name is Joy,” said Mike McIntyre, 39, “and we always say she’s a joy to be around. … She has the cutest smile – deep dimples and really big teeth. … She’s feisty. She’s like the Energizer Bunny – she never stops.”
▪ Elisa Troncale, a year and four months old: “She’s very enthusiastic and outgoing,” said Anthony Troncale, 34, “or inquisitive – that’s what her grandmother would say.”
McIntyre hopes the baby photo sheds more light on firefighters’ humanity.
“A lot of people label us heroes and put this brand on us when we’re just like anybody else walking around” said McIntyre, also an occasional model for a modeling agency that his wife, Chantea, owns.
McIntyre, Henry and Troncale said being dads has made them better firefighters.
“My empathy, how I feel for people when on calls, has definitely changed,” Henry said. “I think everything about me has changed.”
It might have something to do with all baby hugs he now receives from Jett.
“One of my favorite things right now is he comes up and give you hugs,” Henry said, “and there’s nothing better than a baby hug.”
McIntyre, a self-described “adrenaline junkie,” said being a dad has also made him safer.
The dads do their best to support each other, on and off the job.
McIntyre, a father of four, lives by this parenting advice: be patient, present, and aware that each child has their own unique personality.
Troncale said it’s nice to work for a department with so many fellow fathers and mothers. “My daughter has 320-something uncles and aunts on the job. … This is one big family.”