Mike Kiefer, 26, could have been a GQ cover.

A member of Ladder 132 in Brooklyn, Kiefer was a Long Beach lifeguard and triathlete who swam 15 miles at a stretch and surfed all winter. He was usually one of those working closest to the flames at the Hempstead Fire Department, Long Island's busiest, where he is remembered for scolding firefighters he caught eating French fries and prodding them to work out.

"When they saw him take his shirt off, women would melt," a fellow member of Hempstead's Southside Ladder Company recalls. "He was a total athlete. His big quote was, 'You have to hydrate.'"

Hempstead Deputy Chief George Sandas said Kiefer had ridden an ambulance for the city before getting assigned to the firehouse about a year and a half ago.

"Whenever you'd ask how was the job, he'd just beam," Sandas said. "He just loved it."