STEVE INSKEEP, host:
On Fridays, we bring you StoryCorps. It's a project that's collecting stories of Americans around the country. This is a chance for Americans to remember and to pass on their memories.
And today we'll remember Steven Bates. He was a lieutenant with Engine Company 235 in Brooklyn and he was killed on September 11, 2001, six years ago this month. Steven Bates had been with the fire department for 18 years. And here, two other lieutenants with the department, Bob Carberry and John Cullen recall spending time with their friend, on and off the job.
Mr. BOB CARBERRY (Firefighter): Physically he was a big man: a large guy, six foot, blond hair, blue eye. But he was tough on the outside big, big soft guy in the inside.
Unidentified Woman: Yeah.
Mr. JOHN CULLEN (Firefighter): I know he loved dogs. He loved cartoons. He loved his naps.
Mr. CARBERRY: There are certain people we enjoy seeing when we show up at work and he was definitely one of them. You'd walk in the firehouse in the morning and one of his big traditions were to have had those pretzel rolls from Glendale.
Mr. CULLEN: Glendale.
Mr. CARBERRY: He was from Glendale, Queens. And he got me into doing triathlons. And him and I were fat, balding firemen. And I have a picture on my basement of him and I, with our bellies sticking out of a wetsuit, with these bathing caps on, ready to do a triathlon. I look at that and I just go hysterical. I always do that specific triathlon in memory of him.
Mr. CULLEN: You know, when you get on the fire department, they take a photograph of you. And the reality is that's the picture that they're going to use if you die. And so it's called a death picture. It's an official photograph and they know this is the photograph they're going to use if you pass. So that picture was a sad picture. You go look at his eyes and you could see he had some tough days.
Mr. CARBERRY: I think that had a lot to do with his upbringing. He was a pretty much an orphan his whole life. So I guess he developed a shell around himself but if you get to know him, you saw the softer side of him.
Mr. CULLEN: And the fire department gave him a family. We have these terms that what we call each other brother. And every time he came to work, he had, like, 12 brothers and sisters.
Mr. CARBERRY: You know, he was a perfect person to be a firefighter. And I think Stevie would want to be remembered as a caring guy.
Mr. CULLEN: He was a strong, strong man. He had a generous spirit and I'm really honored to know him and, you know, to call him friend.
INSKEEP: John Cullen and Bob Carberry remember Lieutenant Steven Bates who died on September 11, 2001.
StoryCorps is trying to record interviews in honor of every person who died that day, and these recordings will be part of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.
All StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and at npr.org.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.