By Katie McFadden
Late firefighter Timmy Klein will forever be remembered by the members of Ladder 170 in Canarsie, but now, he will forever be memorialized by all who walk through their doors. On Monday, April 24, a year to the day that Klein died while on duty, a plaque dedication was held at the Canarsie’s Bravest house, Engine 257/Ladder 170/Battalion 58, to honor the beloved firefighter who called Rockaway home.
The service began with bagpipes and a prayer led by FDNY Chaplain, Monsignor John Delendick. “Timmy was a man who came here, following in his father’s footsteps, and he came here to live out a dream. He came here and he lost his life, so we come together, and we pray for him, remember him and dedicate this plaque to him,” Msgr. Delendick said.
Captain Mark Schweighardt of Ladder 170 hosted the ceremony and acknowledged all in attendance, including Klein’s mother, Dee Dee; father, Patrick; his sisters, Tara, Bridget and Erin, and his girlfriend, Courtney, along with many other family members and friends. Also in attendance was the family of the late firefighter Billy Moon, who died during a training exercise in December, and the family of late firefighter Steven Pollard, also a member of Ladder 170, who in 2019, Klein had eulogized, as they were close friends.
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh addressed the Klein family about the person Timmy was and the sacrifice he made on April 24, 2022, when he responded to a fire on Avenue N. “We gather for a plaque dedication in Tim’s honor. We place his name on the wall of this firehouse and know that his story will continue and will be told for decades to come for all who pass through these doors,” Kavanagh said. “When you come into this firehouse, pause for a moment at the plaque that now bears his name. Remember that he died doing what he loved, in a city that he loved, with the people that he loved. He will never be forgotten.”
“We are gathered here for a sad reason, but it’s also a special one,” FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said. “We are making sure that Timmy’s sacrifice is never forgotten. Timmy was just the type of example we want future firefighters to emulate. A selfless, brave, kind individual with a heart of gold who loved his job. In the days since Timmy left us, we have heard countless retellings of his dedication to firefighting and also to his community. Timmy’s actions inside and outside of the firehouse truly made him shine.”
Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association dedicated a plaque of their own to the Klein family. “Your son’s sacrifice, and the sacrifice of the Pollard family and the Moon family—they give us the name ‘the Bravest,’ and we’d like to honor the gift of the name they’ve given us by always being there for you,” Ansbro said.
Fellow firefighter and Rockaway resident Andrew Spadaro then gave an emotional speech about the day of the fire, in which a floor collapsed, ultimately killing Timmy. But he mostly focused on events before that day, recalling another tragedy that faced Canarsie’s Bravest. He spoke of the day in which firefighter Steven Pollard died, falling from a drawbridge while responding to an accident on the Belt Parkway in January 2019. He spoke of Timmy’s efforts to perform CPR and stay by Pollard’s side until doctors took over, and ultimately shared the tragic news that 30-year-old Pollard had passed. Spadaro spoke of the leadership role Klein took in those dark days, even while dealing with his own grief, and how he found the time to write Pollard’s eulogy, which Klein delivered five days later. But it was in the quiet ways that Klein continued to honor Pollard that was truly touching.
“The background on his phone was Steve. He had child-sized hockey jerseys that he got for Steve’s nieces and nephews, that we found after in his car,” Spadaro said. Klein visited the Pollard family, often bringing them fresh bread. He joined the board of the Fight for Firefighters Foundation to build ramps in Pollard’s name. “He would never mention these things because Timmy’s love for Steve and his family was not contrived. He didn’t need likes or recognition. Timmy carried Steve Pollard in his heart and everywhere he went. And now I know what happened on Avenue N one year ago today. Timmy carried Steve into that fire, and Steve carried Timmy out, and now we carry both of them in the only way we know how, and that’s the way Timmy showed us. We love and miss you brother.”
It was a tough speech to follow, but Klein’s mother, Dee Dee did it with grace. She thanked Klein’s fellow firefighters for all of the support they’ve given the family over the past year before speaking of her son. “Tim grew up in a firefighter family. He made his dream a reality, becoming a New York City firefighter in 2015. So we know for sure Tim was where he wanted to be in his life. He wanted nothing more to do his best as he served this city he loved,” she said. “Life for Tim, and all of us, could not have been better until that horrific day one year ago, when he came here to work but never made it home. And now, just 12 months later, we come here to his firehouse home to be with you all and honor his memory and his sacrifice as he gave his life to save another.
“The plaque dedication today and his memorial here will continue to help us all remember the person he was. As Tim was, we are now dedicated to the Fight for Firefighters Foundation and have established the Timothy P. Klein Memorial Foundation, which helps us all continue to live as Timmy did—quietly but determined to give back and help others in need,” Dee Dee Klein said. “We ask Tim to somehow continue to give us all the strength and courage we need to accept our difficult new life without him and guide us through each day, always remembering and honoring his quiet, selfless nature. Free and easy, Timmy. We love and miss you forever.”
Msgr. Delendick said a prayer over the plaque that read, “Dedicated to the memory of Firefighter Timothy P Klein, Ladder Company 170, who made the supreme sacrifice while in the performance of his duty. At Brooklyn Box 332075. April 24, 2022.” The ceremony concluded with the playing of “Taps” on the bugle and “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Photo from the FDNY.