In 1985 Peter Bielfeld’s life was saved by Captain James McDonnell who pushed Bielfeld and another firefighter to safety seconds before a fireball exploded in the fourth floor apartment in a tenement fire across the street from Ladder 42 in the Bronx. McDonnell would succumb to his burns. On 9/11 Bielfeld should have been in the Bronx with his company, but he had rescheduled a medical appointment at FDNY headquarters just across the bridge in Brooklyn to attend the annual memorial service at this firehouse. Bielfeld had injured his shoulder in a fire two days earlier. When he heard about the Trade Center, he immediately asked to be placed back on active duty and hopped a ride into lower Manhattan. He stopped at 10 House to find some gear. When he found some that fit he left a note behind to say: “I’m borrowing this gear. Hope to return it. If I don’t come back….” He ended the note with a message of love for his family.
Bielfeld had spent his entire career with Ladder 42. Although eligible to retire with 20-years of service the next June, Bielfeld was planning instead to take the exam for lieutanant. He left behind a 2-year-old daughter.