Capt. Patrick J. Waters

Capt. Patrick  J. Waters
World Trade Center

Coffee and Nerves of Steel

You knew that Patrick Waters was on duty if there was a phenomenal amount of coffee brewing in the firehouse kitchen. Captain Waters, who would have been 45 years old today, always seemed to have a cup of the stuff in his hand.

He was what firemen call "a good fireman," graceful under pressure, passionate about the job and everything it entails -- from battling flames to filing reports (his were always spelled correctly). In 1998, he was on duty at Ladder Company 106 in Queens when the India Street pier collapsed, hurling eight people into the turbulent East River. There was no time to don protective gear; Captain Waters, whose father, Patrick, taught him to swim at the Jersey shore, jumped in and kept a woman afloat until she could be hauled in safely. "That was a great day," remembered Lt. Mike Kenney, a friend, who still has a picture of Captain Waters, soaked and freezing. "Eight people went home to their families that day."

Off duty, Captain Waters coached his sons, 10 and 14, in basketball and hockey and ran their school PTA. On Sept. 11, he was at the Fire Department's medical office, having a routine physical with four firefighters from his hazardous-materials unit, when they heard about the attack. They ran out the door and over the Brooklyn Bridge to the trade center.

"I've never met anybody who loved going to work as much as he did," said his wife, Janice. The coffee was only part of it.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 16, 2001.

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