Joseph Farrelly, 47, a born firefighter


Dennis Farrelly couldn't get over the fact that his younger brother, Joseph, was afraid of needles, but had no problem running into burning buildings.

"It never went away. He did not like needles," Dennis Farrelly said of Joseph. But Joseph Farrelly couldn't wait to become a firefighter in his hometown of Old Bridge.

As soon as Joseph Farrelly was old enough, he volunteered for the South Old Bridge fire company. He quickly moved on, becoming a paid firefighter in New Brunswick and later in New York City.

Mr. Farrelly, who had been promoted to captain a year ago but had not been assigned a specific firehouse, was filling in for a vacationing colleague on Sept. 11.

His family believes the company, Engine Company 4, Ladder 15, was one of the first to arrive at the World Trade Center after a hijacked airliner slammed into the North Tower. He was 47.

Mr. Farrelly's mother, Teresa, said she knew right away that her son was dead.

"I felt from Day One that he was gone," his mother said. It took his father, Joseph, several more days.

Mr. Farrelly is among 15 firefighters from Engine Company 4 who perished in the World Trade Center.

The fire company recently held a memorial service for all the victims' families and took everyone to Ground Zero.

"I had seen it on television and in the paper. But you can't grasp it until you stand there. It looked like Hiroshima after they dropped the bomb," Dennis Farrelly said.

Hearing his brother's co-workers talk fondly of Joseph during the memorial service helped ease the pain. Over and over again they complimented Mr. Farrelly and talked about how concerned he was for their safety when they responded to fires.

"He wanted to make sure they knew what to do and how to do it so they didn't get hurt," Dennis Farrelly said. "It made me feel good that he had that kind of loyalty with his workers."

Mr. Farrelly also is survived by his wife, Stacey; three children, Ryan, 19, Devin, 17, and Julieann, 11, all of Staten Island; and two brothers, Michael of Sayreville and Patrick of Cheyenne, Wyo.

A memorial service will be held for Mr. Farrelly at noon Monday at the Harbor Manor, 1000 Richmond Terr., Staten Island.

-- Alicia Grey