Thousands Attend Funeral for Fallen FDNY Firefighter

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(New York-WABC, December 20, 2003) -- Ten thousand firefighters lined the streets of Flushing, Queens, to honor Thomas Brick who was laid to rest. The 30-year old firefighter -- whose life long dream was to be one of New York's bravest -- died Tuesday while fighting a fire in a mattress factory.

A sea of blue stretched for blocks along 194th Street in Flushing. Thousands of firefighters -- some from as far away as Baltimore -- were at the funeral to pay their respects to one of their own.

Capt. Mike Everett, FDNY: "It's a very sad day for us. Nobody wants to bury their own."

Lt. James Faller, FDNY: "He always wanted to be a fireman. He was always into learning and drilling, and checking the rig out and learning how to become better and better as a firefighter."

Brick was killed in a massive fire at a mattress factory and storage area in Upper Manhattan on Tuesday. Fire officials say he was one of the first firefighters to rush into the burning building. Under heavy smoke fueled by smoldering mattresses, he became cut off from the others. Firefighters searched frantically only to find their colleague crushed by fallen debris. He died of burns and cardiac arrest -- doing the job he loved, but only got to experience for two years.

Firefighter James Marley, FDNY: "He was one of my brothers. I'm one of the senior guys when he was a probey. He listened to ya. He was just happy all the time."

The young firefighter was among the first class of firefighters to join New York's bravest after so many of them had died in the World Trade Center attack.

Lt. James Faller, FDNY: "The class after the World Trade Center...that first class of guys breathed new life into us, and that was the beauty of it."

Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Scoppetta joined the Brick's family and more than a thousand others who packed Saint Kevin's Church for the funeral mass. Thomas Brick leaves behind two small children.

During his first tour of duty, Thomas Brick helped rescue six people trapped in a burning apartment. His ladder company received a medal for their valor.