New York’s Bravest gathered in Canarsie on Monday to commemorate fallen firefighter Timothy ‘Timmy’ Klein, who tragically died in the line of duty last year.
Tributes were paid to Klein at the Canarsie Firehouse, where he served as an FDNY smoke eater for six years with Ladder Company 170/Engine Company 257 — with his fellow first responders telling of the “huge void” left in the absence of their “fallen brother” who was dedicated to protecting his fellow New Yorkers on and off the job
The 31-year-old Queens native died on April 24, 2022 when he became trapped under a ceiling collapse while battling a 3-alarm fire on Avenue N in Brooklyn. Klein was removed from the building by his fellow firefighters and rushed to Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.
Speaking of the fatal fire, friend and fellow firefighter Andrew Spadaro told those gathered for the ceremony that he still goes to sleep at night unsure of what happened in those last moments.
“One of the most difficult questions I’ve been faced with over the past two years is what exactly happened to Tim? Admittedly, I’ve obsessed about that fire. I walked in and around the fire building multiple times, mentally mapping where every fire company and every farmer was operating for the duration of the event,” said Spadaro.
“I’ve come to believe, however, that I won’t find the answer to these harrowing questions in the painstaking breakdown of the events of April 24 2022. But in events that occurred long before the fire, events that shaped the man Tim Klein would become.”
Spadaro remembered Klein as the proverbial rock on which the firehouse all learned, something which was emulated following the death of his friend and fellow firefighter from Ladder Company 170, Steve Pollard, in 2019.
“Fighting through his own grief and anguish Timmy led his brothers and sisters through some of our absolute darkest days and still found time to write an incredible eulogy which he delivered admirably five days later,” Spadaro recalled, describing Klein as a “leader without trying”.
“He had all the right answers when difficult questions arose and he almost always did the right thing, which may be the most noble and rare quality of all. There’s not a tour that goes by that I don’t have a question I wish he could answer. There’s not an event or an outing that I don’t contemplate how Tim would run it.”
‘Ultimate dream job’
Following in the footsteps of grandfather and his father, Klein joined the FDNY in 2015 and was assigned to Ladder Company 170 in Canarsie.
“He wanted nothing more than to do his best as he served the city he loved, working his ultimate dream job” Timothy’s mother Diane said at Monday’s ceremony, thanking his fellow firefighter’s for “continuing to think about and care for our family, especially during these last 12 months.”
“We cannot believe it has been one year since Timmy was taken from us so suddenly our family continues to struggle each day with this loss and the reality of our new life without him,” said Diane. “In his short 31 years, Tim has left us all with a lot of wonderful memories, a legacy of kindness and compassion for putting others before himself, a strong work ethic, a witty sense of humor, and a quiet selfless nature which allowed him to always appreciate what life had given him.”
Diane said she hoped the plaque unveiled Monday will continue to “help us all remember the person he was not only on the job, but in life, one we could all strive to emulate as we push forward each day without him.”
The plaque — which will live at the Canarsie’s Ladder Company 170, where Klein served — is engraved with a tribute to the young firefighter’s life.
“Dedicated to the memory of Firefighter Timothy P. Klein, Ladder Company 170, who made the supreme sacrifice while in the performance of his duty operating at Brooklyn Box 3-3-2075,” the plaque reads.
Klein was the 1,157th member of the FDNY to die in the line-of-duty. Offering her condolences to the Klein family, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavangh thanked them for “raising a man like Tim and sharing him with us and for the sacrifices your whole family has made for this department.”
“Tim was exactly the kind of person we hoped to attract to the FDNY. He was calm and deliberate, passionate about his work and doing it so well. Following in the footsteps of his father Patrick and his many uncles and cousins on the job. He knew the risks that come with this job. And he forged ahead anyways, we know this work, helping people and saving lives was exactly the kind of work he aimed to do and he did it so well,” said Kavanagh.
Kavanagh said the “huge void” left by Klein, also referred to as the Golden Child and the Canarsie kid, was filled by his family and fellow members who have started a foundation in his honor.
“They have done as Tim would have wanted, paying it forward and words and actions to continue to do the great work of the FDNY saving lives and protecting property to work with honor and purpose, and to leave things a little better off than they found them,” Kavanagh said of the Timothy P Klein Memorial Foundation.
Timothy Klein is survived by his father, retired FDNY Firefighter Patrick Klein, his mother Diane, his three sisters, and girlfriend Courtney.