“Kevin O’Rourke”

555 Fitness Hero WOD

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  • EMOM in 10 minutes
  • 2 Front Squats (225/155 lb)
  • 5 Burpee Box Jumps (24/20 in)

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namesake photo
This Firefighter Hero WOD is dedicated to Kevin O'Rourke, FDNY, Rescue 2, who was killed on September 11, 2001.

Kevin O'Rourke, 44, of Hewlett, was a firefighter serving with Rescue Co. 2 in Brooklyn when he responded on 9/11. "My dad pretty much was the kid who rode his bike chasing the fire truck," said his daughter, Corinne Strome of Valhalla.

Kevin O'Rourke had been rescued by a firefighter as a child, she said, and it inspired him to become a firefighter himself. "It was his calling ... He did it not for the recognition, but really out of the love of it. Those less fortunate did deserve our help, and he was always mindful of that. He always wanted to pitch in."

Both Strome and her sister, Jamie, were close with their father. Jamie and her father shared a love of the Grateful Dead and went to concerts together. Strome's son, Kevin Louis, is named for her father; she also has an infant daughter, Natasha. Sometimes she takes her children to the local 9/11 memorial. "We go in there and blow kisses to Pop Pop," she said. "As we pass the park, he Kevin] always says, 'Hi, Pop Pop.' "

O'Rourke's body was found, and he was buried at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, for which the family is grateful. "We'll occasionally picnic, and catch him up on what's going on," she said.

Her family has remained close with members of the Fire Department, Strome said. "We saw the worst of humanity, but my family and I have seen so much good from people as a result, as well," she said, ranging from stuffed animals sent by schoolchildren around the country to donations from companies that enabled the sisters to go through school.

Strome, her sister, and mother try to honor O'Rourke's memory by doing things he would have enjoyed: For example, her parents used to talk of buying an RV someday, and recently her mother did buy a bus that she has taken on some family trips.

"We try to memorialize him - he's somebody who definitely had a love of life, and an understanding that if you lived a good life then that was your legacy," she said. "He wouldn't want us to be consumed by grief."

Rescue Co. 2's firehouse is the only building standing on its Bergen Street block in Crown Heights. But to neighborhood kids, it has become a friendly place known as Kevin's Bike Shop, where one firefighter always made time to help put air in their tires or fix a broken chain.

Firefighter Kevin O'Rourke, whose body was recovered last weekend in the wreckage of Tower One, had bought a rug remnant he kept rolled up under his turnout gear at the elite company's station. When the kids came by, he'd pull it out to practice "Stop, Drop and Roll."

"Kevin O'Rourke was the nicest man on the New York City Fire Department," said Robert Galione, the senior firefighter in Rescue 2, who ought to know. "We've tortured him and we've badgered him, and he just giggled."

The sun rose and set with his wife, Maryann. On days off, he helped serve communion at hospitals. But O'Rourke's soft heart was covered by a chestful of medals for the hard work he did when the alarm bell rang. Indeed, the only time he got in trouble was for being so eager to save lives that he endangered his own.

"His helmet shield would melt," Capt. Phil Ruvolo recalled Wednesday. "I'd say 'Kevin, you were too close again,' and he'd say 'Oh, I'm sorry, I just wanted to get to that back bedroom, there coulda been somebody there, I'll get it fixed right away.'"

In June, O'Rourke helped rescue an elderly woman two blocks from the firehouse. Her son came by the next month to thank them. "He said, 'You guys saved my mom. I have her now because of you. I only have $2,000, and it's yours,'" Ruvolo recalled. "Kevin said, 'No, no, no. I want you to keep your money, but I want you to buy everybody in your family a smoke detector.'"

Besides his wife, Maryann, he is survived by two daughters, Corinne and Jamie; his parents, Dennis and Hannah; siblings, Dennis and Patricia O'Keefe, and many nieces and nephews.
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