Thomas P. DeAngelis: In the Thick
years ago, when Thomas P. DeAngelis was promoted to
battalion chief in the New York City Fire Department, his
wife, Patty, told him: "You've been running into burning
buildings for 22 years. But you're a battalion chief now,
so you won't have to do that anymore."
In her heart, she knew better. Tommy DeAngelis would
never send a firefighter into a building he had not
personally entered and checked out. Around the East 51st
Street firehouse in Manhattan, he was known as "Chuckles"
because of his sunny good humor and his lust for life:
sports, cooking, sailing, carpentry, writing. But when
the alarm sounded, he would suddenly become all
Sometimes he would kick around the idea of retiring in
a year or two &emdash; he was 51 &emdash; maybe to take
up writing children's books. But, again, Mrs. DeAngelis
knew better. "He loved being a firefighter way too much
to ever quit early," she said.
On Monday, Sept. 10, she had lunch with him at their
home in Westbury, on Long Island, before he headed into
Manhattan to pull a 24-hour shift. "See you Tuesday
night," she said as he left, giving him a kiss. "Be