John Capozzoli Jr. of Freeport remembers the moment he knew he was destined to join the fire service. He was 12 years old and riding shotgun in his father’s pickup when the Freeport Fire Department sounded its air horn. As he and his father pulled into the firehouse, he recalled the excitement he felt as he watched his father, a volunteer firefighter, don a thick bunker coat and helmet and climb aboard the fire truck.
"At that point," he said, "I knew I wanted to do that, too."
He signed up with the Freeport Fire Department in 1958 at 18, following not only his father, but two uncles and two older brothers into the fire service.
Now, 63 years later, the 80-year-old great-grandfather, who rose to the rank of chief, still serves Freeport Village, battling house and commercial blazes. He has no plans to retire.
"I get mad when the younger guys [firefighters] want to take care of me," said Capozzoli, who fitness walks more than 20 miles a week and is the catcher for the fire department’s softball team. "I don’t want to sit in a rocking chair, and I’m not looking for it either. My heart and soul are in this department."