Sep 09, 2011
Patrick Waters, Jr., 45, was the captain of Hazardous Materials 1, or “HazMat 1,” in Maspeth, Queens. He was last seen by survivors on September 11th in the lobby of the North Tower, right before heading up with his men.
Waters and the rest of his crew from HazMat 1 were in Brooklyn when the call came in for all fire department members to report to the city, according to his wife Janice. The men left Brooklyn and walked into a nearby firehouse to borrow gear and began a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge before being picked up by a driver who raced the men to the World Trade Center site.
His arrival at the North Tower was captured by the French filmmaker Jules Naudet, who was filming a documentary with his brother about the life of probationary firefighters that later evolved into the film now known as 9/11.
“You can see him right there on the screen talking to Chief [Ray] Downey,” said Janice. “And then he walks out of the camera’s range. That’s the last we ever see of him.” Janice said Patrick never called her during the morning and she did not even think he would have been at the scene.
“On my way home [from shopping], there’s a high point in Queens and people were pulling over,” she said. “So I pulled over to see what they were looking at — the towers were already collapsed and there was just a big plume of smoke. I knew Pat would go because he was in special operations, but I didn’t think he would have been there already.”
Waters’ firehouse, which also houses Squad 288, lost a total of 19 men on September 11th.
Waters was raised in Inwood and attended a Catholic school in the area before going to high school at Archbishop Malloy in Queens, graduating in 1974. He had been an accountant for some time afterwards, but found his true calling in the firehouse.
“He really loved what he did,” said Janice, who had been married to Patrick for over 19 years. “He just loved being a firefighter.” He and Janice had two children — Christopher and Daniel, 14 and 11 at the time of the attack. Patrick coached the boys in every sport they played in, pushing them to be better — especially in basketball and hockey. He also served as the president of the PTA at Sacred Heart High School, where Christopher was attending at the time.
“He was a great Yankees fan,” said Janice with a laugh. “We were a house divided — the men were all Yankee fans and I was the Mets fan.”
Every year, Janice said she is reminded of that September morning when the sky is spotless and bright.
“It started as an ordinary day, but you’ll always remember the sky that day — it was pacific blue and not really a cloud around. Around September, you’ll always get a day like that… and it always brings me back to think about 9-11.”
—Scott P. Moore
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