Firefighters in West Hartford, CT are mourning the loss of Patrick Brooks, President of Local 1241 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, who died in the line of duty Tuesday afternoon at the West Hartford Fire Department.
Brooks, 38, served the department for 10 years and served as President of IAFF Local 1241 for the past 6 years. He was the department's Firefighter of the Year in 1995 and was awarded its bronze star twice for meritorious service.
Brooks was on duty at Station 5 Tuesday when he said that he didn't feel well. Fellow firefighters could not revive him, and he was pronounced dead at Hartford Hospital. Battalion Chief Mike Noga said the local medical examiner was working to determine the cause of death.
Brooks is survived by his wife Rita and three sons, Patrick, 14, Anthony, 11, and Christopher, 8.
Noga said friends and colleagues remember Brooks for his integrity and loyalty.
"He was very loyal to his firefighters, to his town and the fire service in general," Noga said. "You could take his word to the bank."
Brooks became union secretary in January 1997 and president in June 1998. He helped the department through two re-organizations, initiated a fund raiser last year that collected $57,000 for FDNY firefighters after 9/11, and resolved a four-year battle over contract negotiations this past July.
"If you were looking for a word to describe him, he was a courageous leader who fought for the firefighters," said Capt. Jerry Leblanc. "He would take on any battle with any leader whether it's a politician or the chief. He wasn't concerned with how it would affect him personally. He did whatever it takes to do the right thing."
Leblanc also called Brooks a fun-loving friend, a fearless firefighter and great family man. "His number one priority was always at home with his three sons," Leblanc said.
When Leblanc asked another firefighter to help him describe Brooks, Lt. Jay Moreau replied, "How do you describe Superman?"
"If you're looking for how guys felt about him, that pretty much sums it up." Leblanc said.
Noga said this is the first line of duty death in the department's history. "Some of the firefighters that were there, especially those helping him, are taking it pretty difficultly," he said. Counselors have been available to talk to the firefighters.
The West Hartford Fire Department has 100 personnel and serves a population of 60,000.
Funeral Arrangements are as follows:
Wake: Friday, November 15, 2002
3 -5 p.m. and 6 - 9 p.m.
Carmon Funeral Home,
807 Bloomfield Ave
Funeral: Saturday, November 16, 2002
St. Gertrude's Church
550 Matianuck Ave
Internment: Mount Saint Benedict's Cemetery
1 Cottage Grove Road
Additional information regarding staging areas and other details to follow. Information also available at www.west-hartford.com.
For further information, please call Public Information Officer, Battalion Chief Michael Noga at 860-883-4327.