Meant to Be a Firefighter
Michael G. Montesi was a hero on two fronts, for 13 years with the Fire Department, and for 39 with his family.
As a member of Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan, he pondered the issues the unit faced and came up with solutions, said a colleague, Thor A. Johannessen, like a small air pack that could be strapped onto a trapped person's face, providing fresh air in smoky or poisonous conditions. They still carry those packs in the Rescue 1 truck.
At age 5 he owned a fire helmet, and he waited years for the call from the Fire Department that sent him to a ladder company in 1988, said his sister, Maria Lauria. "It was in his blood," she said.
It was as a firefighter that he met his wife, Nancy, when she and a friend stopped by a firehouse to ask for directions to the George Washington Bridge. They had Matthew, Ian and Ryan, now 7, 5 and 3, who adored him and would follow him around the yard, everyone carrying a weed whacker. "This is what it's all about," he would say.
The two older children were learning to play hockey, a sport he loved (he was a goalie), and he was their assistant coach. "You could depend on him," Mrs. Montesi said.
He was going to leave work early on Sept. 11; the boys had a game, and he promised them that he would be there.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 17, 2002.