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Thread: Born to Be a Firefighter

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    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Born to Be a Firefighter

    Born to Be a Firefighter

    After three years setting up computers and training his comrades in the New York Fire Department, John Collins couldn't wait to return to doing what he loved best, helping people in desperate circumstances.

    On Sept. 6, Mr. Collins, 42, of New York, got himself reassigned from the training job back to fighting fires with Ladder Co. 25.

    Five days later, Mr. Collins died as he lived, "an honorable man," among the first firefighters who responded to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, said his mother, Nancy Collins, of Franklin Township.

    "He gave his life truly serving others," she said. "It was what he believed in and always wanted to do, to help the next guy."

    Mr. Collins' family and friends plan "a celebration of his life," a memorial Mass, at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Matthias Church, 168 John F. Kennedy Blvd., in the Somerset section of Franklin.

    "He was a really fine guy from a wonderful family," said the pastor, the Rev. Douglas Haefner.

    When Mr. Collins was a child in New York, "his father would take him over to the firehouse where he had a best friend who would put him up on a ladder," his mother said.

    The family moved to Franklin when Mr. Collins was 10, and he attended St. Matthias School and Immaculata High School in Somerville, where he played football.

    But the early impression stuck, along with memories of firefighters parading on St. Patrick's Day. When Mr. Collins graduated, he applied for jobs at both the New York police and fire departments. The police job came through first, and Mr. Collins spent almost five years on the force.

    "When he was a policeman, he used to tell me, 'Mom, you have no idea the way some people are forced to lived,'" said Nancy Collins, who learned only recently that her son would buy groceries for people in his precinct and sneakers for their children.

    But his ambition was still to fight fires, and when the fire department offered him a job 13 years ago, he grabbed the opportunity.

    "He lived life to the fullest" and reveled in the camaraderie of his fellow firefighters, his mother said.

    Although quiet about his own work, "He was a very outgoing guy, the eldest of five, and when he showed up, his brother and sisters would be like, 'Johnny's here, the party's starting,'" she said.

    In addition to his mother, Mr. Collins is survived by his father, Martin; a brother, Martin of Readington; three sisters, Anne of Branchburg, Eileen of New Providence and Trisha of Basking Ridge, and a niece, Kiera.

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to a memorial fund: Capital Trust Co. of Delaware, Account 45-126220, John M. Collins Memorial Fund, Little Falls Center 1, Suite 210, 2711 Centerville Road, Wilmington, Del. 19808.

    -- Joe Tyrrell
    Last edited by SeaBreeze; 01-23-2002 at 02:55 PM.

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