From steamy guilty pleasure shows like "Chicago Fire" to countless calendars and posters, it's clear that firefighters hold an important place in our society beyond being first responders.
While their job may be to put out flames, the very sight of these brave and able heroes ignites excitement in many a woman who crosses their path. What exactly is it about firefighters that puts our senses on high alarm?
They're big in all the right places
What makes people attractive to the opposite sex often depends on hard numbers related to their dimensions. For example, researchers have found that men tend to most desire women who have a waist-to-hip ratio of about 70%, because this was traditionally seen as ideal for childbearing. Women, on the other hand, tend to find a man physically "ideal" when he has a shoulder-to-waist ratio of 161.8%. The heavy lifting and other upper body work that firefighters do tends to give them the type of body that we'd like to watch slide down a pole.
They hold a high social status
Firefighters save lives and help others, which is part of why they enjoy such an esteemed position in our society. In fact, a recent Harris Poll suggests that alongside doctors, scientists, and military officers, firefighters enjoy more job-related prestige than other professionals. This may be a key factor in their allure. Many psychological studies have found that social position plays a significant part in a man's perceived level of attractiveness.
Girls dig uniforms
Yes, it's true, the very thing that many of us want to see taken off a firefighter could be what's turning us on. Some experts believe that women are attracted to a uniform because it suggests a level of competence and dependability that would make them good protectors and fathers. (However, a University of Toledo study found that the specific uniform matters; a doctor's outfit was rated much higher than a fast food worker's.)
We may have a "Cinderella Complex"
Writer Colette Dawling first popularized the idea of a Cinderella Complex in the early 1980s. Dowling theorized that many women may fantasize about (and seek out) a "knight in shining armor" type, who can save them from their problems.
While some feminists have criticized Dawling's work, others argue that fairy tales and other societal influences do in fact compel women to fantasize about being swooped up carried out of the burning building that is their life.
Well, duh. Aside from the aforementioned shoulder-to-waist ratio, the rigorous physical activity that firefighting demands keeps firemen looking strong and delicious all over.
Sure, rolling muscles are a lot of fun to look at, but they are also an evolutionary indicator that a man is a healthy and worthy mate. According to Dr. David Frederick of the UCLA Department of Psychology, who conducted a study on women's attraction to muscles, "Muscularity...requires calories, testosterone, and a strong immune system. It's telling women, 'Hey, look at me -- I must be in good condition.'"
But c'mon, did you really need science to tell you that?