Tradition is not taken lightly in Tom Nestor Jr.’s family. “My grandfather, father, and numerous uncles are members in the firehouse, or were,” Nestor says proudly. So, once Nestor turned 16, he rushed to join the ranks of the very same Point Breeze Fire Department that he had basically grown up in. Now 17 years old, Nestor is the acting chief’s aide within New York’s Breezy Point volunteer fire department, committed to not only upholding his family’s legacy but also to protecting the greater Breezy community. In celebration of Fire Prevention Month, GOOD is partnering with Nest to share the personal stories of Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department. Here, we take a closer look into the life of Tom Nestor Jr.; his firehouse, what motivates him each day as a volunteer firefighter, and the daily struggles and triumphs of his profession.
As excited as Nestor was to join the firehouse, the beginning of his probation period in late 2012 also marked Hurricane Sandy ripping through Breezy Point, causing catastrophic damage to the community. “It was unreal,” he remembers. “It was like a military base—cops, firefighters, volunteers, and the military all over the place.” Although Nestor was lucky enough that his own house wasn’t destroyed, he was able to help and witness his fellow firehouse volunteers selflessly give of their time and labor to rebuild the community. That period, trying as it was, also reinforced Nestor’s dedication to his post and the work he has committed himself to. Currently a senior at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, Nestor spends what free time he does have away from the firehouse catching up on his studies, or with his family and friends, some of whom are in the FDNY firehouses. “It’s fun,” Nestor says of hanging out with his family members who are also in civil service. “Each guy always has a life lesson to share, which is essential for me. I’m a young man, and I like hearing stories from my dad, uncles, or family friends about helping people.”
Nestor's grandfather, known as one of the ‘Five Gods’
Looking ahead, Nestor is incredibly hopeful for his firefighting future and eager to add to his family’s legacy. “My grandfather was known as one of the “Five Gods” who helped lead the department back in the 60s, all the way to the 90s,” he says. “Even though I never got to meet him, and I’ve heard so much about him, I always know he’s with me at calls or at the firehouse.” Aspiring to rise through the ranks like his grandfather, Nestor remains devoted to keeping the Breezy Point community safe and sound.