Lt. Michael Esposito, Sqd.1 Michael Esposito, 42, FDNY lieutenant loved family and fitness STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Family and fitness were integral parts of Michael A. Esposito’s life. The 42-year-old Eltingville father of two adolescent sons spent all his leisure time involved in their sports activities and instilling values they could carry into adulthood. Recently, Andrew, 15, and Michael, 12, became infatuated with the sport of dirt bike riding. The father insisted his sons help pay for their bikes so they would learn that they had to work for what they wanted. After the bikes were purchased, Mr. Esposito bought all the necessary equipment and gear so that his sons would be well-protected when they rode in Englishtown, N.J. “The accessories alone probably cost more than the bikes,” remembered his wife, the former Denise E. Palazzotto. During the past several years, the Fire Department lieutenant was a coach for his sons’ Great Kills Little League teams. He was always careful to devote equal time to both sons’ teams. Summers were spent visiting the boys’ maternal grandmother in Florida and going surfing. “He was always doing something physical,” said Mrs. Esposito. “Whatever he wanted to do, he did through his kids.” Mr. Esposito competed in triathlons, was a former member of the Fire Department’s boxing team, and worked out regularly in the South Shore YMCA. He would jog several miles a day when he was in training for a Fire Department memorial run. In the summer, Mrs. Esposito began running with her husband in preparation for joining him in the Al Ronaldson Memorial Run. “He got me up to three miles,” recalled Mrs. Esposito. But the events of Sept. 11 forever altered the peaceful routine of the Esposito household. Mrs. Esposito last spoke to her husband the night before when he left to begin his 24-hour tour at Squad 1 in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He remains one of the 11 missing members of his unit. Like always, the couple exchanged good-byes with a warning from Mrs. Esposito to be careful. “He always said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m in God’s hands,’ ” recalled Mrs. Esposito. “I think he worried more about others than himself. He was a selfless man. I think all firemen are.” Mr. Esposito’s cousin, Frank Esposito, a Tottenville firefighter who worked in Engine Co. 235, Brooklyn, is also among the missing. “As soon as they said it, I knew in my heart that my husband was there,” said Mrs. Esposito, referring to her reaction to hearing the first news broadcast of the attack. During the 20 years that Mr. Esposito was a firefighter, he had participated in many dangerous search and rescue operations. In April 1995, Mr. Esposito was one of six Staten Island firefighters and two police officers with the New York City Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team that responded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s request for assistance after the Oklahoma City bombing. Mr. Esposito, along with the other USAR members, spent five grueling days working 12-hour and longer shifts searching for victims in the collapsed remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The volunteer team’s rescue and recovery efforts were acknowledged in an awards ceremony hosted by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in City Hall where Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick presented the USAR members with individual ribbons and an Indian chief’s headdress. Borough President Guy V. Molinari also held an awards ceremony in Borough Hall and proclaimed May 1, 1995, to be “Finest and Bravest Day” on Staten Island. Mr. Esposito responded again to a request by FEMA in January 1998 after then-President Clinton declared five upstate counties disaster areas because of a deadly ice storm that claimed the lives of six people and left nearly 500,000 without electricity. In this relief effort, Mr. Esposito was part of a team that de-iced power lines and cables that were brought down by the storm’s high winds, flooding and crippling ice. Although Mr. Esposito had received numerous citations and awards throughout his career as a firefighter, he never considered himself heroic. “He wasn’t one for patting himself on the back,” said Mrs. Esposito. “He thought of it as his job.” In addition to his work with FEMA, Mr. Esposito was also a certified emergency medical technician with training in scuba and hazardous materials. Mr. Esposito graduated from the Fire Academy in January 1981. His first assignment was with Engine Co. 207, Brooklyn, where he worked for a year before being reassigned to Brooklyn’s Engine Co. 214 (nicknamed “The Nuthouse” by company members). In October 1988, Mr. Esposito joined Rescue Co. 2 in Brooklyn as a heavy equipment and rigging specialist. He was promoted to the lieutenant in May 1994, and transferred to Squad 1 a year later. Squad 1 was like a second family to Mr. Esposito and, as such, whenever someone from his “fire family” needed a hand installing a kitchen or doing concrete work, he was there. The camaraderie that existed among the members of Mr. Esposito’s firehouse extended to their families as well. Every month or so, the firefighters and their wives would make a date to go out to a restaurant in Manhattan and see a play. Recently, when Mrs. Esposito went to her husband’s firehouse to pay her respects at an outdoor memorial, she decided it was time to bring home some of his belongings. When she opened his locker, Mrs. Esposito discovered it filled with pictures of her and their sons, spanning each stage of the boys’ lives. “I’m very honored to have met this man, and to have been married to him,” said Mrs. Esposito. The Espositos met in 1982 at the former Hedges supper-club in New Dorp. “Our eyes locked,” said Mrs. Esposito, remembering how cute he looked during their first encounter. “When we were dating he used to come over and shovel my driveway, so I knew he was a good guy. He was always helping my mother.” On Oct. 19, the Espositos would have celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary. Born in South Beach, Mr. Esposito moved to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in 1986, where he lived briefly before relocating to Valley Stream, L.I. He settled in Eltingville in 1989. A graduate of New Dorp High School, he attended the College of Staten Island. For the last 20 years, Mr. Esposito also worked part-time for A. Tranchina Inc., a Dongan Hills-based masonry company. Mr. Esposito was a member of Gateway Cathedral, Richmond Valley, where he had participated in many of the church-sponsored retreats. In addition to his wife, Denise, and his sons, Andrew and Michael, surviving are his parents, Sam and Rose; his four brothers, Frank, Sal (Big Sal), Joseph (Jo-Jo) and Simone (Sam), and a stepbrother, Salvatore (Sally Boy) Mingoia. There will be a memorial mass Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Holy Rosary R.C. Church, South Beach. Arrangements are being handled by the Colonial Funeral Home, New Dorp.