Mr. Mom's Fire Truck
When Wendy Feinberg recalls meeting Alan D. Feinberg 21 years ago, she remembers not only the man, but also his car — a sharp Datsun 240-Z. From that encounter in the parking lot of a Sheepshead Bay diner came marriage, children and a life for Mr. Feinberg as both a firefighter and a Mr. Mom.
Unbeknownst to his wife, Alan Feinberg, who worked at the time as a salesman of buttons and boys' clothes in the garment district, secretly wanted to be a firefighter. Four years into the marriage, that is what he became. To compensate for a cut in salary, Mr. Feinberg took advantage of the flexible hours of firefighting to remain home with Tara, now 18, and Michael, 15, while Wendy took the 6:05 a.m. into the city to work as a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, a job she left in 1996.
His children remember Firefighter Feinberg, 48, making breakfast, putting them on the school bus and being the "class dad" who chaperoned school field trips and coached baseball and soccer. As his children got older, Firefighter Feinberg, who was the battalion chief aide at Engine Company 54 in Manhattan, took on a second job that built on his love of fancy cars: he became a transporter of new cars to the automotive press, which would then write about them. Just recently, he was thrilled to have dropped off a PT Cruiser and a red 2002 Corvette. "He would have loved that new Thunderbird if he had seen it," his wife said. "He was doing what he wanted to do," she added. "He was very happy. Everyone should have had such a happy life. He was the little boy who never grew up."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 22, 2001.
Alan Feinberg, 48, loved helping others
Alan Feinberg's penchant for helping came naturally, if not effortlessly.
A firefighter for 19 years, Mr. Feinberg's helping hand was not limited to his work but was extended to anyone in need, from passers-by at his Midtown Manhattan firehouse to youngsters at his children's games.
"He was an excellent firefighter, but one of the things that distinguished Al is his enthusiasm, his endless energy," said George Maier, a chief at Battalion 9 who worked with Mr. Feinberg for the past five years. "Whether it was somebody looking for directions, locked out of their car, or just asking for the time, Al could not do enough to help anybody with any type of problem."
So when terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Mr. Feinberg did not hesitate to race to the scene. He, along with 14 others from his firehouse, hasn't been seen since. Maier said 32 men from the battalion remain missing and are presumed dead.
A memorial service for Mr. Feinberg, 48, will be held at 8:15 p.m. today at Marlboro Jewish Center at Schoolhouse and Wyncrest roads in Marlboro. The family will receive friends from 7:15 p.m. until the time of the service.
Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Feinberg moved to Marlboro 16 years ago. He was an assistant battalion chief, responsible for most of the administrative duties concerning the five fire companies that make up Battalion 9.
As much as he was devoted to his firefighting duties, Maier said his colleague was equally enthusiastic about his time with his children. "He was a proud father, and believe me, we heard it after each game."
That pride was not lost with his daughter, Tara, who at age 17 wrote a moving essay about her father as a hero for an application to the University of Florida in Gainesville, which she now attends.
"My father has taught me the true meaning of a hero," wrote Tara, now 18. "It amazes me how someone can have such an unyielding desire to help others, even when there is a constant risk of the danger involved. Even when my father is not fighting fires, he is altruistic in other ways. If there is an accident on the road, he will always stop to administer first aid and call the police. My father is the first one to run onto the field at a soccer game to make sure the player is not seriously hurt."
As much as she was proud of her dad's work, she also said she realized his job was a dangerous one, and knew one day he might not come home.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Feinberg is survived by his wife of 23 years, Wendy; a son, Michael; his parents, Harold and Sylvia Feinberg of Brooklyn; and a sister, Ilene Kustin of Brooklyn.
In lieu for flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alan Feinberg Family Fund, P.O. Box 883, Manalapan, N.J. 07726.
Profile by Michael A. Wattkis published in THE STAR-LEDGER.