Family, friends and community members grieved together during the funeral service for fallen firefighter and Queens resident Timothy Klein on Friday morning, April 29, at the Church of St. Francis DeSales in Belle Harbor.
Klein, 31, was tragically killed on Sunday, April 24, when he responded to a three-alarm fire inside the residence of 108-26 Ave. N in Brooklyn. According to FDNY officials, the ceiling collapsed, tragically killing Klein and a civilian and injuring eight other firefighters.
Blocks of the residential neighborhood in Rockaway Beach were closed off for the procession, with each tree leading up to the church adorned with a red ribbon to honor Klein. Just before the funeral began, hundreds of FDNY and NYPD members lined the streets of Belle Harbor to salute Klein’s coffin, which was draped in the American flag and carried into St. Francis.
Klein had been with the FDNY for six years before his untimely death. He leaves behind his father, retired city firefighter Patrick Klein, mother Diane and his three sisters. Klein is the 1,157th member of the FDNY to die on duty.
Reverend William Sweeney officiated the funeral service and called the firefighter “Timmy” while praising all that he accomplished in his short life. Sweeney took a moment to speak directly to Klein’s parents, sharing that the church will stand with them forever.
“You raised a very very fine son who made a difference in such a short amount of time,” Sweeney said. “We come together today with the family to give them strength. We thank Timmy for all that he did. Timmy would be embarrassed that we were all paying attention; he’d never want all the attention because he was somebody who would always stand in the background — but Timmy was the real deal.”
Sweeney mentioned Klein was supposed to be a part of a wedding party with “his dear friends” taking place tomorrow in the same church.
Mayor Eric Adams spoke at the funeral, sharing his thanks for the bravery Klein showed and expressing his condolences to loved ones.
“The young man died fighting a three-alarm fire on Sunday and didn’t make it home,” Adams said. “We will never forget Tim’s bravery and sacrifice. Looking back, it’s clear that Tim was born to be a hero. He came from a fire-fighting family. To lose your son in this way is just so devastating. My heart goes out to you.”
In January 2019, Klein — who many referred to as “the beloved Canarsie kid” — delivered the eulogy for Firefighter Steven Pollard, his friend, and fellow firefighter from Ladder Company 170 who also died in the line of duty.
Adams mentioned how moved he was at Klein’s wake yesterday, which took place at Marine Park, Brooklyn.
“As I stood over Timothy’s casket I saw a New York Yankees hat, [and] a can with his favorite beverage,” Adams said. “He was more than a firefighter. He was more than a hero. He was a representative of an American family. Your son invokes something inside me. We should use him as a symbol.”
Vincent Geary, his colleague and childhood friend, spoke about Klein as a “mentor, a leader and a role model to everyone in the firehouse.”
“He just always knew the right thing to do,” Geary said. “The Canarsie Kid, TK, Kleino, little Timmy from Rockaway Beach and our favorite one of all the Golden Child.”
Geary joked with the crowd, most of whom knew well of Klein’s lovable nicknames.
“When it came to Tim, he just couldn’t do anything wrong,” Geary said. “We waited and waited until we had no other option than to use his good nature against him, christening him as ‘the Golden Child.’ He was a boss’s dream and role model to us all.”
Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said that Klein will be remembered for his heroism.
“On this solemn day, we stand with the Klein family and all Timothy’s loved ones, and shoulder to shoulder with firefighter Klein’s brothers and sisters in the Fire Department of New York, to honor his selfless sacrifice,” Ansbro said. “This organization, 20,000 strong, will stand with the Klein family and be there to support them today and every day in the future as they cope with this tragic loss. We will never forget.”
Klein’s unit, Ladder Company 170, responded to reports of smoke in the area at around 1:49 p.m. on Sunday. According to an FDNY report, the fire quickly escalated in the private Brooklyn home, and as conditions deteriorated, the incident commander ordered all members to evacuate the building. The collapse occurred shortly after, trapping Klein before he could escape the blaze.
New York leaders showed an outpouring of support for Klein and his family. Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted, “Our prayers are with Timothy Klein’s family, loved ones, and all of the @FDNY on this extraordinarily difficult day, and we are hoping for a swift recovery for the other firefighters injured in today’s fire.”
Mayor Eric Adams also expressed his praise for Klein.
“Firefighter Timothy Klein gave new meaning to the name, “New York’s Bravest,” Adams said. “His heroics were matched only by his heart. To his family, loved ones and fellow firefighters: this city mourns with you tonight.”
On the night of Klein’s death, an informal memorial was held with hundreds of FDNY and NYPD members gathered outside the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, awaiting a convoy escorting the firefighter’s remains.
Check back with QNS.com later with more updates.