Always at the Ready
Summer and winter, morning, noon and night, Lt. Daniel O'Callaghan wore his thick black bunker pants around the Ladder Company 4 firehouse in Midtown Manhattan. "It would be 102 degrees out, and he'd be wearing his bunker gear," said Al Schwartz, a firefighter who drove the truck with the lieutenant sitting up front beside him. "He was always ready to charge in."
This was a man who set the Fire Department like a seal upon his heart as well as a seal upon his arm. But he also taped paintings by his 6-year-old daughter, Rhiannon Rose, to his office walls at the firehouse, and when he left his house would back his pickup truck up the street just to wave goodbye one more time to his 17-month-old, Connor Daniel. And when he left their home in Smithtown, N.Y., to work a 24-hour shift, he left a trail of Post-It notes in places where his family would find them: the dresser drawers, the refrigerator, the pillows.
"He'd draw smiley faces on them," said his wife, Rhonda, who married him on his 31st birthday, "and he'd write 'I love you' or 'I miss you' on them."
A lot of firemen work second jobs to make ends meet. But not Lieutenant O'Callaghan, who would have turned 43 today. "He was always with us," his wife said. "I'm glad, because my daughter has all these special memories."
He usually carried a battered prayer card with a book of matches stapled to it in his jacket pocket. It was his good-luck charm. On Sept. 11, he left it behind.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on February 3, 2002.
O'CALLAGHAN-Daniel, of Smithtown, on September 11th, 2001, in his 42nd year. A Lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department -Ladder 4- who lost his life tragically in the line of duty while trying to help others at the World Trade Center disaster. Also a former New York City Police Officer. Beloved husband of Rhonda Lee (nee Smith). Loving daddy to Rhiannon Rose and Connor Daniel. Cherished son of William and the late Gladys O'Callaghan. Fond son- in law of Roseann and Ronald Smith. Dear brother of William, Maureen, Joseph, Timothy, Helene Caspar and Michael O'Callaghan. Brother- in-law to Margaret, Susan, Alice, and April O'Callaghan, John Caspar, and Susan and Ronald Smith. He is survived by his twenty nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly, many friends and his fellow firefighters. Family and friends may visit Thursday, November 8th, 7-9:30PM and Friday, November 9th, 2-4 and 7-9:30PM at the Branch Funeral Home, 190 East Nain Street,Smithtown. A memorial mass will be held at St. Patrick's Church, 280 East Main Street, Smithtown, on Saturday, November 10th at 11:00AM. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to FDNY Engine 54/Ladder 4/ Battalion 9 Memorial Fund, 782 8th Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10036, the N.Y. Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, c/o Engine 65, 21 Asch Loop, Bronx, N.Y. 10475, or your favorite charity.