Fred Ill Jr. was a skinny kid from the
Bronx, and he made up for it by being better than you.
A captain in the New York Fire Department, he gained fame
two years ago for saving the life of a man who was pushed
onto the subway tracks. The duty of a firefighter ends right
about there, but simple lifesaving was not enough for
Captain Ill. He later stayed nearby as the man learned to
walk on artificial legs, and he helped to find scholarships
for the man's children.
He put in extra effort as a father of three, a baseball and
basketball coach, a reservist in the Army Corps of Engineers
and, of course, a firehouse leader.
"Everything he did, he did it over the top," said Chris
Flatley, a firefighter at Ladder Company 2 in Manhattan. The
men there, on East 51st Street, say that Captain Ill, 49,
was the first captain to dedicate himself to the house,
which officers are wont to treat as a stressful, temporary
The firefighters could not resist occasionally pulling
pranks on such a man. Once they watched as Captain Ill
called in a report of a suspicious package, though they knew
he was looking at a newly installed sculpture.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 24,