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Thread: Firefighter dies battling 4-alarm blaze

  1. #16
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    10,000 MOURN HERO

    10,000 MOURN HERO

    By JOANNA WALTERS, STEFAN C. FRIEDMAN and SAM SMITH

    December 21, 2003 -- A sea of mourners crammed streets for blocks around a Flushing church yesterday to say a final farewell to firefighter Thomas Brick - the 30-year-old fire eater who died in a four-alarm blaze in a mattress warehouse Tuesday.

    The FDNY estimated that 10,000 people, mostly firefighters from the city and surrounding communities, packed the Queens church and the neighborhood.

    After keeping Brick's tragic fate from his two children for days, family members decided to tell the kids - Aidyn, 2, and Madeleine, 4 - so they could attend the ceremony at St. Kevin's Church.

    And members of Brick's unit - Manhattan Ladder 36 - unveiled a truck bearing the fallen firefighter's name before the service began.

    Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta were among those who eulogized Brick, a two-year veteran of the department.

    "Firefighter Tom Brick was as sturdy and dependable as his name suggests," Scoppetta said.

    Bloomberg recalled how Brick and his company were honored for saving six people in a Washington Heights fire that occurred during Brick's first day on the job.

    "If that's not hitting the ground running, I don't know what is," the mayor said.

    Jim Carney, Brick's mentor and a spokesman for the family, talked of how his prot

  2. #17
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    Brave hearts broken

    Brave hearts broken

    Thousands mourn loss of firefighter

    By JOSE MARTINEZ and DON SINGLETON
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS


    Firefighter Thomas Brick was laid to rest yesterday in a hero's funeral.

    Nearly 10,000 firefighters from the FDNY and departments up and down the East Coast stood eight and 10 deep near St. Kevin's Church in Auburndale, Queens, as Brick's flag-draped coffin arrived on the engine of Ladder 36 - his company.

    They were there to honor Brick, who died Tuesday battling a four-alarm blaze in an upper Manhattan warehouse. Brick had become separated from the rest of his company and a stack of flaming mattresses fell on him.

    As the coffin was carried into the church, Brick's proud father, Thomas Brick, held his son's dress uniform cap, and bagpipers played "Amazing Grace." When the procession ended, the coffin rested at the foot of the altar, and Brick's helmet lay alongside.

    It was the church of Brick's childhood - he used to help with the Christmas decorations there, and sing in the choir - and now his daughter Madeline, 4, and son Aden, 3, sat in a front pew as FDNY Chaplain the Rev. Christopher Keenan began to speak.

    "His life was not for his own sake, it was for the sake of others," Keenan said.

    Brick, 30, was in the first Fire Academy class to graduate after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the second firefighter to die in the line of duty this year.

    Even when he was off-duty, he always wore FDNY gear, Mayor Bloomberg said. "He always wanted people to know he was one of New York's Bravest."

    Bloomberg noted that in January 2002, on Brick's first day of duty, his company was involved in the rescue of six people from a burning building in Washington Heights, for which Brick and others received medals.

    "If that's not hitting the ground running, then I don't know what is," the mayor said.

    Looking at the two children, he said, "Your father was a hero." And addressing the assembled firefighters, he said, "You'll survive Tom Brick's death. The Fire Department is better because of Tom Brick's life."

    "Tommy Brick lived his dream - how many of us here can say that?" said Brick's mentor, retired Firefighter Jim Carney. "And I know, as his father told me, he would do it again."

    The children "truly fulfilled Tommy's life in every way," Carney said. "That first class of guys brought new life to us, and that was the beauty of it," said Firefighter Frank Occhiogrosso of Engine 95, which shared the upper Manhattan firehouse with Ladder 36.

    "They brought a youthfulness and an exuberance that was missing after the World Trade Center."

    "It just hurts," said Capt. Mike Everett from Ladder 36. "You bury your own and it's very sad. My family's hurting now."

    Originally published on December 21, 2003

    http://www.nydailynews.com/front/sto...p-130595c.html

  3. #18
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    For him, heaven was Ladder 36

    For him, heaven was Ladder 36

    His father drove him in from Queens but remained outside as the teenaged Tommy Brick stepped through the side door of the E. 143rd St. firehouse known as the Harlem Hilton.

    Young Brick had been invited to spend the night by a family friend, Firefighter Jim Carney. The boy seemed born with a desire to become a firefighter and he gazed about the apparatus floor with an expression Carney would still be able to picture more than a decade later.

    "A kid in a candy store," Carney would say.

    Carney took Brick into the kitchen, where a renowned firehouse chef was preparing a meal for the men of Engine 69 and Ladder 28. Brick rode that night on one of the rigs, and he bunked with the firefighters and stayed long enough for breakfast the next day. He returned home to Flushing as if he had found heaven in Harlem.

    "The whole week his mother called me, 'Jimmy, you don't know what you did ... that was his dream,'" Carney would recall.

    Brick took the test and waited. He was 28 when he was called to become a member of the first class of new firefighters after the attack on the World Trade Center. He arrived with an incandescent smile in the department's darkest hour.

    "The Brick smile," Carney would say later.

    Carney presented Brick with a simple set of rosary beads that had been strung by a woman in Florida in response to Sept. 11, 2001. The 10 plastic beads linked a crucifix and a medal of St. Florian.

    "The saint of firefighters," Carney noted.

    That New Year's Eve, Brick completed his training. He was assigned to Ladder 36 in upper Manhattan and helped rescue six people at his very first fire. The company won another kind of medal, the Elsasser Memorial Medal for heroism.

    "I said, 'Now, don't think every time you go to a fire you're going to get a medal,'" Carney would remember.

    The other members of Ladder 36 included two firefighters who had been at the Harlem Hilton when Brick stayed over all those years before. One was the renowned firehouse chef and he telephoned Carney.

    "He said, 'Jimmy, remember that kid you brought to the Hilton? ... This kid remembered everything about that night,'" Carney would recount. "He even remembered what [the chef] made for dinner."

    As the months passed, Carney encountered Brick at various fires, the final time last summer in Washington Heights. Brick said everything that needed saying without uttering a word.

    "The smile said it all," Carney would remember.

    Carney retired soon after. He was in the car with his wife on Tuesday when he heard the news on the car radio that a firefighter had been killed in upper Manhattan.

    "I said, 'That's where Tommy's working,'" Carney would recall.

    Carney grabbed his cell phone and dialed the Harlem Hilton, but everybody was out at the scene. He started calling anyone who might know the name of the fallen firefighter.

    "My wife said, 'What are you doing?'" Carney would recall. "I said, 'I got a bad feeling, Jane.'"

    A friend then called. The fallen firefighter was indeed Tommy Brick and he had been taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital. His mother was there when Carney arrived.

    "She said, 'How's the other guys? How's the other guys?'" Carney would remember. "All she was about was the other guys. I said, 'Margaret, they'll be okay.'"

    The other firefighters were physically unscathed, but heartbroken. They included a lieutenant who had first met Brick years before at the Harlem Hilton. The lieutenant had last seen Brick when they were enveloped in blinding smoke.

    The firefighters went in two small groups to the room where their young comrade's body lay. Carney joined them in paying their last respects, doing his best to hide his tears.

    The elder Thomas Brick afterward reminded Carney that young Tommy had died while living his lifelong dream.

    "The father said, 'Jimmy, he would do it again,'" Carney would remember.

    The mother was still concerned about "the other guys" and spoke of visiting the firehouse. The firefighters instead came to the Brick home on Wednesday. They brought along a small box they had found in her son's locker.

    The box had a top that flipped open like a ring case. Carney was there and he peered inside to see the rosary and its St. Florian medal nestled with Brick's Fire Department medal.

    "It made me feel he was sending me a message," Carney said later.

    Still standing

    The mortal remains of Firefighter Thomas Christopher Brick were borne up to St. Kevin's Church in Auburndale yesterday, on a morning as bright and clear as truth. A banner to the left of the altar bore the words "To Realize a Dream."

    The Mass was offered by Fire Chaplain Chris Keenan, whose predecessor died on Sept. 11. Carney gave a eulogy, as he had after his firefighter cousin died at the World Trade Center. The final eulogy for Brick was by Firefighter Eugene Meehan of Ladder 36, whose brother died at the Trade Center.

    Outside, the bagpipes played as they had so often in that darkest time when a new firefighter arrived with that incandescent Brick smile. The sun had slipped behind the clouds, but Brick's spirit shone in the faces of the thousands of firefighters who lined the street as his flag-draped coffin was borne away.

    He leaves behind the small box and its message to all of us that the twin towers of faith and courage still stand.

    Originally published on December 21, 2003

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/stor...p-130583c.html

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    Firefighter Eulogized as Achieving His Dream

    Firefighter Eulogized as Achieving His Dream
    By ALAN FEUER

    Published: December 21, 2003


    As long as there are firefighters, there will be firefighters' funerals.

    They are ritual events, always the same: A sea of men in navy uniforms lined up on the street outside. The casket brought forth atop a fire truck. The dead man's helmet carried in by a willing comrade. Drums and bagpipes. "Amazing Grace."

    Yesterday, this honor was given to Firefighter Thomas C. Brick, who died last Tuesday battling a fire in an Upper Manhattan warehouse. It was a large fire, four alarms, and especially ferocious, fire officials said. Firefighter Brick had been among the first men rushing in.

    He was a rookie, and the first man to die in the first class of firefighters to join the city's Fire Department after 9/11. His death

  5. #20
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    Mourning The City's Bravest

    Mourning The City's Bravest

    By Deborah S. Morris
    Staff Writer

    December 20, 2003, 5:58 PM EST

    Thousands of firefighters, most wearing only their dress blues and white gloves as protection against the cold morning air, lined Queens streets up to 10 deep Saturday to pay tribute to fallen colleague Thomas Brick.

    Inside St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church in Flushing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and others spoke of Brick with warm, tender words, remembering him as a real-life hero who was always happy and was living his dream.

    "Today is truly a dark day. But we cannot let it diminish the light of a beautiful life, diminish the power and joy of a young man living his dream while serving others," Bloomberg said.

    Brick, 30, died Tuesday after a pile of mattresses fell on him as he battled a fire at an upper Manhattan warehouse. Brick, of Ladder Co. 36, was the first firefighter to die from the first class to enter the department after Sept. 11, 2001. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

    Before the service, colleagues from Brick's company talked about the pain of losing "one of their own" but also about the joy of working with him.

    "It's a very sad day for us. Nobody wants to bury their own," said Capt. Mike Everett, Ladder 36 commander. "It just hurts. Our family is hurting."

    But he said the impression Brick made during his less than two years at the firehouse is undeniable.

    "He'll best be remembered for his tremendous energy, good humor, tremendous smile, his love for the Fire Department," Everett said. "He was just a tremendous, tremendous kid."

    Promptly at 11 a.m., a cortege led by six police motorcycles rolled past the church, soon followed by the Fire Department's bagpipers marching in somber cadence. A specially modified fire truck carried Brick's coffin to the church that is just two blocks from his home, where he had been a lifelong parishioner, an altar boy and choir member.

    During the two-hour service, Brick's parents, Thomas and Margaret Brick, along with his siblings Christopher Brick and Megan Assimacopoulos, sat in the front row along with Brick's children, Madeline, 4, and Aden, 3, and their mother, Meredith Esselman.

    Brick's mentor, firefighter James Carney, recently retired from Engine 69, talked about Brick running after fire trucks as a boy, collecting newspaper clippings on fires and listening to police scanners to find fires, much to the dismay of his sister.

    "He used to listen to the scanner at home, until Megan begged him to turn it off," Carney said.

    Ladder Co. 36 colleague Eugene Meehan told a couple of humorous stories about Brick and spoke of his happiness at having a chance to work with someone so proud to give and to help others. At the end of his eulogy, he asked the congregation to stand and applaud Brick's parents for the gift of Thomas Brick. The congregation obliged, standing for a moment in thunderous applause.

    Then, to the strains of "How Great Thou Art," Brick's coffin was removed from the church and placed back on the truck, headed for burial in Huntington.

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    Fond neighborhood farewell for FDNY hero

    Fond neighborhood farewell for FDNY hero

    By VERENA DOBNIK
    Associated Press Writer

    December 20, 2003, 4:22 PM EST


    NEW YORK -- A firefighter killed battling a factory blaze was remembered Saturday at a funeral in the church where he once served as an altar boy, with 10,000 of his colleagues joining loved ones for the emotional farewell.

    A fire truck carried the casket of Firefighter Thomas Brick through his Queens neighborhood, past 10 blocks packed 10-deep with Fire Department co-workers, family and friends.

    On a crisp, quiet December morning, the casket rolled past homes decorated for Christmas, another reminder that Brick's two children would mark this holiday without their father. FDNY bagpipers provided a mournful soundtrack.

    "His enthusiasm for the (fire) department was matched only by his love for his children," said Firefighter Eugene Meehan, addressing an audience that included Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

    The funeral procession included a half-dozen police motorcycles, and a truck from Brick's Ladder Co. 36. "In Memory of Thomas Brick," read an inscription on its front, which was draped in black and purple mourning cloth.

    The funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Kevin's Church, two blocks from Brick's home, by the Rev. Christopher Keenan, a Franciscan priest who is the FDNY's chaplain.

    "I know that his nephew John couldn't say Uncle Tommy. He called him Cool Tom," the chaplain said in his homily.

    Brick served as an altar boy at St. Kevin's while growing up, often helping decorate it for Christmas.

    On the front steps, a member of Ladder 36 stood with tears in his eyes, clutching Brick's helmet. At the side of the altar was a wreath with Brick's shield number, 599.

    Brick, 30, was a member of the Fire Department's first graduating class since Sept. 11, 2001, when 343 firefighters died in the World Trade Center attack.

    Scoppetta said that on his first day on the job, Brick helped rescue six people from a burning apartment in Manhattan's Washington Heights _ for which he and his company were cited for valor. On his last day, said the fire commissioner, "he was one of the first firefighters into that building," where he died Tuesday.

    Separated from his unit, Brick was found badly burned and in cardiac arrest after being trapped under a pile of burning mattresses.

    He leaves a 4-year-old daughter, Madeline, and a 3-year-old son, Aden, whose name in Celtic means "little fire." The children sat with their mother, Meredith, and grandparents in the front of the church, with Brick's brother and sister.

    Bloomberg walked over and hugged the family members before delivering the eulogy.

    The mayor made reference to Brick's lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter. As a child, he would visit the local firehouse and hang around with the firefighters.

    "You've suffered every parents' worst nightmare," the mayor told Brick's parents, Thomas and Margaret. "But you also had a child who was so happy because he had realized his life's dream. And he was making the world a better and safer place in the process."

    Firefighter James Carney of Engine 69 remembered the fallen firefighter as a child.

    "The story starts with a little boy always running after fire trucks. He used to listen to the scanner at home, until Megan (his sister) begged him to turn it off," said Carney, adding that Brick also read news reports about fires and saved pictures.

    As the casket was loaded back onto the firetruck outside, "Taps" was played while Thomas Brick Sr. held his grandson. Firefighters in dress uniforms with white gloves stood at attention, motionless in the near-freezing temperature.


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