From Boyhood, a Fireman
Michael Vernon Kiefer wanted to be a New York City fireman as long as anyone can remember.
As a toddler, he and his father, Bud, would visit the firehouse in Franklin Square, N.Y., so that he could sit on the trucks.
As a schoolboy, his impression of a siren was so convincing that he once caused a bus driver to pull over abruptly. And his sisters were often drilled on how to rescue their dolls from pretend fires in the backyard shed.
And as a teenager about to undergo an appendectomy, he was anxious, not about the operation, but whether the surgery would keep him from passing the New York Fire Department's physical someday, his parents recalled.
As a young man, Michael Kiefer worked as an emergency medical technician and met his fiancée, Jamie Huggler, a physician's assistant.
When he finally got the chance in late 2000 to be a full-fledged New York City firefighter at age 25, he was all nerves until he learned he had been assigned to Ladder Company 132, one of Brooklyn's busiest.
"He was lucky in a way," said Bud Kiefer, "because a lot of people today are 50 years old and don't know what they want to be when they grew up. He knew."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 20, 2002.