Compassion Came Easy
On a March afternoon two years ago, Matthew E. Barnes climbed to the top of a 100-foot aerial ladder to rescue 6-week- old twins from a furious blaze on the Upper West Side. The ladder swayed in the crisp breeze as Matthew Barnes took Isabella and Jacob Kalodner from the hands of their distraught mother, Linda.
Mr. Barnes, who was honored at City Hall for the rescue, said at the ceremony that he had tried to convince Mrs. Kalodner to wait for firefighters to reach them from inside the building. "She advised me she wasn't going to do that," he said. "I figured if she's willing to pass her baby out a 10th-story window, I should take it."
Mrs. Kalodner told him: "You treated our children like they were your own. There's nothing I can say but thanks."
The compassion was easy.
Mr. Barnes, 37, of Monroe, N.Y., loved children, said Sean O'Brien, a friend and fellow firefighter from Ladder Company 25. Mr. Barnes and his wife, Susan, had three boys of their own, Matthew Jr. 12, Jesse, 10, and Thomas, 8. He loved to take them fishing. "Sue always had a project for Matt to do around the house, but somehow Matt would manage to slip out and go fishing with the boys instead," Mr. O'Brien said. "But the projects around the house always got done. They were proud of their home."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 20, 2001.