Kevin Dowdell: On Time When It
a slow day in superhero land. So Kevin Dowdell docks the
fireboat, and, dressed in firefighter regalia, clumps
over to the Mercantile Exchange. He waves proudly from
the visitors' window to his teenage sons on the floor,
wearing ties for their summer jobs. Patrick! James!
Then the job calls. So Lieutenant Dowdell of Rescue
Company 4, Queens &emdash; trained to use roof ropes and
scuba gear, to handle hazardous materials, wiggle into
confined spaces &emdash; sprints into action, with a
relaxed head and a racing heart. He loves rescue work so
much he chooses not to try for captain, so he won't be
transferred. "Rather be a happy lieutenant," he tells
RoseEllen, his wife of 21 years. He has a bravery medal
and 20 citation bars.
To support the family, the happy lieutenant, 46, works
days off, sanding floors. When his boys start playing
bagpipes and snare, he practices with them, whomping a
bass. More time with the boys, plus he gets to march in
the parade, wearing his kilt.
Only one thing about RoseEllen's best friend drives
her nuts: first to a fire, last to a social event. "You
don't know what would have happened if we left on time,"
retorts the happy lieutenant, a born talker. "We could
have gotten into an accident!"