Rescuer and Counselor
Ronald Bucca was nicknamed "the Flying Fireman" in 1986 after he fell spectacularly from a tenement fire escape, spun around a cable strung through the backyard and lived to tell the tale. And that was just one of his moments.
His specialty was rescuing mankind from smoke and flames, but he did not mind scorching certain people with his wit.
His colleagues collected "Ron-isms." An example: "This one is as sharp as a basketball."
He designed hats for other firemen with details that they found hilarious (but unfortunately, that were not printable).
A firefighter for 23 years, the last nine as a fire marshal, he was also a nurse and a reservist in the United States Army's Special Forces.
Mr. Bucca trained as an antiterrorist intelligence expert, and when the planes hit the towers on Sept. 11, he called his wife, Eve, and said he was heading to the scene.
"He knew it was a terrorist attack," Mrs. Bucca said. "He had been expecting something like that for a very long time."
Before that day, his final investigation had involved a young woman who set her former boyfriend's letters on fire and left them to burn in a toilet. He counseled her as a father might.
"No guy is worth getting this upset over; don't be too concerned about this guy," he told her, said Keith O'Mara, his partner. "There are a lot of fish in the sea. And if this should ever happen again, think about buying yourself a paper shredder."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 23, 2001.