Brother: He was the 'best firefighter that ever lived'
My brother Lt. Timmy Higgins made the ultimate sacrifice very heroically on 9/11. He left behind a wife and three teenage children. Tim was the ultimate family man, always proficient in everything he did, mechanic, roofer, carpenter, driver -- you name it. The thing he may have been best at was firefighting. As a raw young Freeport Volunteer until the day of his death with FDNY Squad 252, Tim may have been possibly the best firefighter that ever lived. I said that long before 9/11. He was simply in a class by himself. Many of his colleagues felt the same way.
Tim was recognized for bravery on many occasions. His career spanned 24 years as he served in the busiest companies in Brooklyn that include, Engine 280, Ladder 132, Rescue 2 and Squad 252.
I was very fortunate to serve with Tim and my brothers and father in the field. Together, my brothers and I also served the NYC Fire Academy as instructors. Tim at the Rescue school for those that finally advanced to the elite rescue companies and I as the senior drill instructor for new probationary firefighters with my other brothers serving as engine and ladder instructors. We felt special because we were.
After Tim's death, our lives changed. We were very fortunate to find him within weeks and put together a realistic version of where they were and how heroically he and his company died. There will never be another one like Tim. A true legend of urban firefighting. Our family moved to Freeport when Tim was 10 years old, we grew up in Freeport, where I still live. Tim settled with his family in Farmingville in Suffolk.
Joe Higgins, Freeport
It was my son Thomas' birthday party at Spaceplex in the early 1990s. As always, it was the usual group of boys from Chippewa Elementary School.
Mr. Higgins accompanied his son, Christopher, and stayed throughout the party. Suffice to say, he left quite an impression. This was a good, family man, who clearly adored his son. Since most were playing lazertag, I gave Chris' father extra tokens for both of them in order to play the pinball machines that were there. He didn't want any special treatment but stood by his boy. That's my memory.
My family was saddened to hear of his tragic loss on 9/11. If he were here right now, he would be so very proud of his dear children and the values he instilled in them. God be with you, Mr. Higgins. Thank you for being there and trying to help those in need.
Susan Gasparik, Holtsville
I was fortunate to meet and become friends with Timmy in 1980. I shared a house with his buddies in Freeport. He took me for many rides on his Harley. Timmy became like a brother to me and without my asking, watched over me. About a year later, I moved to Lynbrook into a 2-family house. One night I was out at a club with a girlfriend and someone stole my pocketbook. They got everything - keys to my apartment and car, license, etc. The owner of the house had the lock changed but I was still very disturbed knowing that some stranger had my address, car keys, photos, etc. I didn't even call Timmy to tell him about the incident because it was late but in the middle of the night he was outside, throwing rocks at my window and calling my name. He had heard about the incident and wanted to make sure I was OK and insisted on sleeping over. The next day he had someone come change the locks on my car for me. Timmy was my hero all those years ago.
Donna Stattner, New Jersey