'The Rock' of Ladder 3
Every firehouse has an array of personalities, from pranksters to perfectionists. At Ladder Company 3, on East 13th Street, Steven Olson was known as "the rock."
Cheerful, optimistic, diligent, reliable, Firefighter Olson arrived in 1989, fresh out of the Fire Academy, and never left. He proved to be an excellent probie, short for probationary firefighter. Lately, whenever the older firefighters would try to push a little extra work out of the newest recruits, they would hold him up as an example. "We'd say, 'There hasn't been a good probie here for 12 years, not since Steve Olson,'" said Rob Burmeister, a friend and fellow member of Ladder 3. "He was full of energy. He never sat down."
Firefighter Olson, 38, turned himself into a top fireman. In the 12 years they spent together, his colleagues watched him marry and become the devoted father of two daughters, ages 2 and 7. In the quieter moments at Ladder 3, he'd work on crossword puzzles, usually with a pen.
"He was a confident guy," Firefighter Burmeister said. At fires, "you always felt comfortable working with him," he added. "If you were in trouble, he was coming to get you."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 14, 2001.