A Role Model by Choice
Keithroy Maynard was black. He was also a firefighter. Those two things meant everything to him, said his twin brother, Kevin.
"People do look to you," he said. "You're like a role model in a sense, especially in the black community where there aren't many black firefighters."
The New York Fire Department has been criticized for its lack of diversity. Firefighter Maynard was one of those determined to change that. After becoming a firefighter in 1999 at age 28, he joined the Vulcan Society, a group of black firefighters.
Mr. Maynard visited predominantly black neighborhoods to encourage others to take the Fire Department test. He worked with the Vulcan Society to train applicants to pass the department's physical exam.
He was part of Engine 33 in the East Village, but he wanted to get posted to a firehouse in his home neighborhood of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, so that children there could know the life of a firefighter, his brother said.
Mr. Maynard was recruited by his father, a New York firefighter of 36 years. His father drove him to the fire academy at 5 a.m. on the first day of classes. Months after Mr. Maynard graduated, his father died, his final dream fulfilled.
Mr. Maynard's dress uniform and spare work jacket now sit in his mother's house. His nametags are on them. His brother said the only person who will be able to fill them is Mr. Maynard's 6-year-old son, Keithroy Jr., another firefighter in the making.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 8, 2001.