December 17, 2003 -- A city firefighter who joined the force a month after 9/11 died in a shower of flaming debris as he searched for victims inside a burning Manhattan building yesterday, officials said.
Thomas Christopher Brick, 30, a father of two, suffered severe burns and went into cardiac arrest as he and 170 other firefighters battled the blaze at a two-story structure containing a mattress storehouse and grocery on 10th Avenue at 207th Street.
The Flushing, Queens, firefighter is the first of the FDNY's post-9/11 class to die in the line of duty, authorities said.
Officials said Brick went into the inferno with a group from his unit, Ladder 36, in an effort to find anyone trapped in the blaze, which started at about 12:30 p.m.
Somehow, Brick got separated and disappeared in the thick smoke.
After a 10-minute search for Brick, who did not activate his emergency locator, firefighters from Rescue 3 found him in a supermarket on the first floor under debris and a charred mattress that apparently had fallen through the ceiling.
Brick was badly burned and suffering from cardiac arrest, officials said. He was taken to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"Today is a very sad day for the New York City Fire Department," said Mayor Bloomberg, after meeting with Brick's family at the hospital.
Bloomberg said Brick had dreamed of being a firefighter and he finally got his chance when the department put out a call for new recruits after Sept. 11.
A former hotel worker and the son of a mortician, Brick has two children, a son, Aidyn, 2, and a daughter, Madeleine, 4.
"He used to go to the local firehouse with a friend of the family and play on the engine," Bloomberg said.
"His greatest dream was realized after 9/11 when he got that call that he'd gotten the job with the greatest fire department in the world."
The fire, which gutted the upstairs mattress/furniture warehouse and an El Paraisio supermarket below, went to four alarms and took about 31/2 hours to bring under control.
Four other firefighters were hospitalized with injuries.
Fire officials said they do not yet know what sparked the blaze, which sent frightened grocery workers running for their lives.
About the Fallen Bravest
FDNY Firefighter Thomas Brick, assigned to Ladder 36 in the Bronx, was 30-years-old and leaves behind two young children, the Mayor and Fire Commissioner announced at an afternoon press conference.
Brick was with his crew inside the structure, when he apparantly became separated from them for an unknown reason, and was founed unconscious and in cardiac arrest.
Officials said there was no distress call from his radio.
Brick graduated from FDNY's first class following the September 11th terrorist attacks, in October 2001.
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