With his days of running into burning buildings behind him, Frederick Fiedler wasn’t involved in high-profile fire department work. But he was always there at early morning calls, Southold Fire Chief William Byrnes said, helping his fellow volunteers and stowing equipment after the call was complete.
“He was there at the end when the real work started,” Mr. Byrnes said. “He didn’t ask for anything of us, he just came and did the job and did everything he needed to do.”
Mr. Fiedler, 72, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow from his driveway in Southold. He was one of five Long Island residents to die during the storm.
A retired Southold Town police officer and bayman who served with the U.S. Marines, Mr. Fiedler was a “a big guy in life and what he did” and always willing to lend a hand, the chief said.
During one early-morning structure fire, a chief who was among the first to arrive took it upon himself to man a hose, usually a three-man job. The chief was having trouble controlling it when she felt a hand on her shoulder, Mr. Byrnes recalled. Mr. Fiedler was there to help.
“When you needed someone, you turned around and there he was,” the chief said. “He put the young people to shame.”
Firefighters are grappling with the loss of a true friend, said Mr. Byrnes said, who was clearing snow for work when the ambulance call came in for Mr. Fiedler’s address.
The more than 6-foot-tall man was not just a firefighter and police officer, but a patriot and loving family man, Mr. Byrnes added. He would always carry the American flag for the department during parades.
“He was one in a million, he really was,” said friend Joe McCarthy, a Southold fire captain. “They broke the mold when they made Fred.”
This Saturday, the fire department will march without him when they take to the streets of Greenport for that fire department’s annual Washington’s Day Parade.
“This is going to be one of the first times in a long time that we’re not going to have Fred leading the parade,” Mr. Byrnes said.
Visiting hours will take place from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold, where a fire department service will be held at 7:30 p.m.
Funeral services will be held Friday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport.
Donations may be made to the Southold Fire Department, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church or the Southold Police Benevolent Association Scholarship Fund.