A side of me resists the consumerism that being fashionable requires, so I have found relief from this, especially if I am shopping for souvenir or fashion gifts for friends.
I have done this two or three times: when I spot a firehouse—doesn’t matter where it is—and especially if one of its doors is ajar or there is a firefighter standing outside, I ask if I can buy one of their firehouse T-shirts. More than once, I’ve been told ‘no’.
At every house, some firefighter has printed up some shirts that are intended just for the members of that house. It’s a way for them to make a little side money while displaying their pride. I know this because in the theatre world, union stagehands act similarly. I’ve had lots of T-shirts printed up for shows I’ve been with — theatrical companies for which I’ve worked, or tours I’ve done — which I sold outside the stage door.
I know that every house’s shirt is unique to that house. That alone makes these gifts special.
They usually cost around $15 and do not look like the kind you will find in Times Square or in souvenir shops elsewhere. Plus, what is cooler than telling the recipient that the shirt you are giving them (or wearing) is from an actual NYC firehouse?
Where: Any firehouse, any borough.
The NYFD is the second largest in the world, behind Tokyo.
Cost: Around $15