February 24, 2002

He Wanted Some Peace

Paul Ruback, a 50-year- old firefighter at Ladder Company 25, was nearing retirement without much of a plan.

He had started to dabble in home inspection, but mostly he spent time with his 2-year-old son, also named Paul. "Wherever he went, the baby was with him," said Debbie Macielag, the boy's mother. Firefighter Ruback had adopted several other children earlier in life, with his estranged wife, Lynne.

Firefighter Ruback's friends remember him as quiet and nonconfrontational.

"He just wanted some peace and tranquillity," said Brian Englander, a fellow firefighter. Firefighter Ruback died as a hero, facing down a deadly fire because it was his job, but when adversity arose in his personal life, Firefighter Englander said, "he would rather just turn and walk away."