Trading In a Toy Fire Truck
When he was 5 years old, Peter Alexander Bielfeld had a tooth extracted. "Afterward, Peter was so upset," his father, Ernest, recalled. "It really hurt. So I took him to a toy store and said, 'You can have anything you want.' Peter went right for the fire trucks. He picked out a big red shiny one. He had that truck for years, maybe until he was 12 or 13. All he wanted to be was a fireman."
"I guess it was just meant to be," Ernest Bielfeld said. "You can't run away from what was meant to be."
Peter Bielfeld played football from sixth grade on at Mount St. Michael Junior and Senior High School in the Bronx. He had a partial football scholarship at Wesley College in Dover, Del. After he died on Sept. 11, the school retired his jersey, No. 42.
His first job was working alongside his father, as a paper handler, at The Daily News. But he never got the idea of being a firefighter out of his system. He joined the department in 1982, and worked at Ladder Company 42 in the Bronx. On Sept. 11, he was on medical leave, but that didn't stop him.
"This is what he wanted to do," said his brother, Roger. "You couldn't keep him out of there if you chained him up."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 1, 2002.