As a young boy in Brooklyn, New York, Phil wanted to be either a policeman or a fireman when he grew up. He didn’t fulfill his dream of becoming a firefighter until he had tried an assortment of other jobs.
On September 11, 2001 he had been a member of the FDNY for almost eighteen years. To Phil the best part of his job was the camaraderie and the laughs at the firehouse.
Athletic since childhood, he played football, baseball, softball, ice hockey and golf. He was a huge Giants, Mets and Rangers fan. He coached his children’s baseball and soccer teams.
He enjoyed rock music and in particular Springsteen, Clapton, The Who, Mountain and Dave Mason.
Phil is survived by his wife and two children, parents, siblings and many loving nieces and nephews.
Tribute submitted by Thomas Petti.
A basement room in Lt. Philip S. Petti's home in Staten Island was filled with so much sports equipment that it looked like a locker room, complete with a treasured photo of him posing as a pro hockey player. An 18-year veteran of the Fire Department, Lieutenant Petti did play on a department hockey team — his mother, Catherine, said he joined the team "before he actually knew how to ice skate."
Though he did eventually learn how to skate — his daughter, Lauren, now 16, taught him — he never really learned how to play well. "I saw him play, and you know, he needed work," said his nephew Tim Schlittner. "As much as he loved it, he definitely needed some work."
But if Lieutenant Petti, 43, was anything less than content with his hockey skills, it did not stop him. "He had a wonderful disposition," his mother said. "He accepted whatever life handed him. His favorite expression was, `That's what it is; deal with it.'"
Besides, he was too busy to look for accolades. He continued to coach his church's soccer and baseball teams long after his daughter and his son, Philip, 18, outgrew their cleats. He had to plan for his sister Jacqueline Butt's annual Halloween party — one year he and his wife, Eileen, went as the Blues Brothers — and practice the Ed Norton-Ralph Kramden routine he had going with his brother Thomas, also a firefighter.
Their sister Adrian Foran said: "Hugs and humor. When you think of Phil, that's what you think of."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on June 16, 2002.