Joe Pfeifer had a date in mind for retiring from the job he has done for 37 years. It would be the second Wednesday after Labor Day. After schools were back. Sept. 12.
He could hardly wait.
Then he decided, no, he wouldn’t delay.
“Do some sailing,” he said. “Decompress.”
So this will be his last week with the Fire Department, retiring as an assistant chief from the agency where he started as a 25-year-old from Queens in 1981. Now 62 and a grandfather, he still lives in Queens — and is still fit enough to scale 30 stories of the Eiffel Tower and then rappel down it, as he did in an exercise last month with a French hostage rescue team.
He was the first chief through the doors of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and he set up a command post in the north tower lobby. His brother Kevin, a lieutenant, checked in with him, on his way to join 343 firefighters who did not come back.