The Rocking Firefighter
He was the rocking firefighter.
When Christopher Pickford was a toddler, his mother remembered, he sang merrily along to a song on "Sesame Street" about a fireman. That became his goal: to grow up to be a firefighter.
But he was captivated by music, too. "I've got baby pictures of him with a guitar," said his mother, Linda Pickford. So he fought fires during the day and played rock music at night. And he always found time for his girlfriend of 11 years, Amy Whalley.
Firefighter Pickford, 32, who lived in Queens and was in Engine Company 201, had his own band, called Ten Degree Lean. He was the lead guitarist and wrote most of the music. An earlier band was called Riboflavin and the Vitamin D's.
At his funeral, a special tribute CD was distributed to mourners that contained songs from both of his groups, as well as several songs written by Ten Degree Lean in his honor. Also on the CD are four messages from Firefighter Pickford that the lead singer of the band had saved on his answering machine. The first one was to give the big news that he had met the requirements and was finally going to become a firefighter.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 26, 2001.