His friends remember Steven Bates as a big man who was tough on the outside and soft on the inside. A lieutenant with Engine Company 235 in Brooklyn, Bates was an 18-year veteran of the New York Fire Department when he died Sept. 11, 2001.
Bob Carberry and John Cullen — also lieutenants with the department — remember spending time with their friend on and off the job.
"There are certain people we enjoy seeing when we show up at work, and he was definitely one of them," Carberry says.
Bates got Carberry to join him in competing in triathlons. The two "fat, balding firemen," certainly didn't look the part of triathletes, Carberry says.
"I have a picture in my basement of him and I with our bellies sticking out of our wetsuits, with these bathing caps on, ready to do the triathlon," he says. "I look at that and I just go hysterical. I always do that specific triathlon in memory of him."
"You know, he was a perfect person to be a firefighter," Carberry says, "and I think Stevie would want to be remembered as a caring guy."
Cullen adds, "He was a strong, strong man. He had a generous spirit, and I'm really honored to know him and to call him friend."
This segment was produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.