Paul Kearting, Lad.5 STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Sept. 11 was not the first time the Keating family counted a hero among them, but the attack on the World Trade Center was the first time it cost a life. Firefighter Paul Keating, known as “Paulie,” was awakened in his Cedar Street apartment in Manhattan when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. He called his sister to tell her he was OK. He could see debris and glass flying around, and he told her that he was going around to the firehouse behind his building. “I’m going to the World Trade Center to help my brothers,” he said. That was the last they heard from him. He is among the thousands missing. His “brothers” were fellow firefighters. Mr. Keating was stationed at Ladder Co. 5 in SoHo. His apartment is so close to the World Trade Center the windows are blown out and the rooms are full of dust. It wasn’t Mr. Keating’s first brush with heroism. Soon after his 1995 graduation from the Fire Academy, where he was a member of the first class of firefighters to be trained for medical emergencies, he rescued a drowning man from the ocean at Spring Lake, N.J. A strong swimmer who had been a lifeguard, he pulled in a man floating in the water, who was unseen by lifeguards, and administered CPR. Cornelius H. (Neil) Keating understands his younger brother’s instinctive actions. He is a Sandy Hook Pilot who was recently given a medal of honor from the New York State Pilot Commission for preventing a collision of two oil tankers earlier this year. In 1980, he rescued a union official whose launch had flooded in New York Harbor. He dove repeatedly into frigid December waters to save the man, then administered CPR to keep him alive. In 1998, Neil Keating returned to work after suffering broken ribs, torn rotator cuffs and knee damage from an accident in rough seas in 1997. “Instinct takes over. I have strong family ties. We had a happy life growing up,” said Neil Keating, attempting to explain his own and his brother’s heroism. “When you see someone in trouble, your own life becomes expendable. Instinct takes over.” Their father, Cornelius J. (Neil) Keating, simply said of his sons, “You instill values. They paid off. They are braver than I am.” Born in West Brighton, Mr. Keating was a parishioner of Sacred Heart R.C. Church, and attended the West Brighton church’s school. He sang in the choir and took part in the basketball and baseball teams. His family moved to the Manasquan area of New Jersey in 1978, and he graduated from Manasquan High School. Mr. Keating moved back to the Island in the early 1990s, living in Westerleigh and West Brighton before moving to Manhattan two years ago. He had a variety of jobs before entering the Fire Department. Certificates from vocational schools for plumbing and land surveying were found among his papers by his family. He had construction jobs, a carpet-cleaning business and a sprinkler business. He took classes at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, N.J. After “bouncing around” for a while, his father recalled, he “totally changed” when he joined the Fire Department in 1995. “He was really in love with the job,” said Mr. Keating. “His conversation was all about it.” Consistent with department protocol, Mr. Keating served six-month rotations in firehouses in SoHo, and in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn, before returning to his “home” firehouse in SoHo. He enjoyed playing softball for Fire Department teams and on Jersey Shore teams. The youngest of six and known for his corny jokes, Mr. Keating celebrated his 38th birthday last month at a joint birthday party with two siblings whose birthdays also fall in September. His father is grateful for “one of the greatest nights we had, lots of laughs, lots of needling.” Paul Keating’s only reservation about the job were the funerals. He joined his firehouse soon after Capt. John Drennan Jr., a Staten Islander and supervisor of Ladder Co. 5, suffered mortal injuries while battling a fire in a Greenwich Village apartment. The loss of three firefighters in this year’s Father’s Day fire also weighed on his mind. Neil Keating has postponed his Sept. 24 wedding. He has coped with the grief and the anger he feels by joining the efforts at the World Trade Center site, taking some comfort in working and grieving with firefighters at the scene. They accompanied him to his brother’s ruined apartment where he found, among other things, rosary beads, family photos and the Fire Department newsletter. The Keating family also took advantage of the Fire Department’s offer to take families to the site of the destruction. Neil Keating, his sister and his fiancee went to the Jacob Javits Center, where he met and was embraced by President Bush, who told him, “You’ve proven yourself to be a great brother,” which is the way he feels about his brother, Paulie. Neil Keating said, “The Fire Department was Paulie’s life. We take some solace that he loved his job so much. He died doing what he loved doing. He died a hero.” In addition to his father, Cornelius J. (Neil), and his brother, Cornelius H. (Neil), also surviving are his mother, Muriel; his brother, Jeffrey, and his three sisters, Kathleen Matthews and Jeanne and Christina Keating. A memorial mass is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. in St. Catherine’s R.C. Church, Spring Lake.