By Michael Sisak
The funeral of a New York City firefighter killed while battling a Brooklyn house fire showed the dedication that firefighters have to each other and the job.
Mourners on Friday called Timothy Klein a selfless hero and fun-loving prankster who overcame childhood health obstacles to follow his father into the department, earning the nick- name “golden child” at his firehouse because he seemingly did no wrong.
Klein, 31, died Sunday when flames engulfed the second floor of the home, causing part of the ceiling to collapse. One other person was killed in the blaze in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood. Eight firefighters and a resident were hurt.
Klein, who was with the Fire Department for six years, volunteered in his off hours by building ramps for disabled members of the fire community and giving retired firefighters rides to the hospital, friends and family said at his funeral at the Church of St. Francis DeSales, a Roman Catholic parish in Belle Harbor, Queens.
Klein was the life of the party, often dragging his boombox and a cooler full of beer to the beach with friends on sunny days, and pulling practical jokes on his friends and fellow firefighters at Ladder Com- pany 170.
“He died doing what he loved,” firefighter Vincent Geary said in a eulogy. “Being a fireman was his true purpose in life. A hero always putting others before himself. Tim was everything you ever wanted in a son, brother, partner, firefighter or friend.”
Klein was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia when he was 9 months old and, before he turned 3, had surgery to remove his spleen, his mother, Dee, said.
Klein’s illness delayed his growth, but he didn’t let that stop him from playing every sport he could — even when teammates and opponents were towering over him — or achieving his dream of being a fire- fighter, Dee Klein said.
“Our hearts will be broke forever, but we know that Tim would want us to con- tinue to quietly pay it forward, just as he always managed to do,” Dee Klein said.
Klein’s father was a New York City firefighter for 29 years, and his grand- father was a police officer. After college in Pennsylvania, Klein joined the fire department in 2015 and quickly impressed his bosses and peers alike.
Rather than getting razzed, as rookies often do, Klein was getting thanked, Geary recalled, leading to his “golden child” moniker.
“It’s clear that Tim was born to be a hero,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said Klein “truly epitomized what it means to be a New York City fire- fighter” and was the kind of person we should all aspire to be, “kind, self- less and always, always there to help.”
“His dedication didn’t end at the firehouse door,” Kavanagh said. “Tim never missed a chance to help. He always stepped up for family and friends, his fellow firefighters at work and outside out of work,
and for the community he bravely served. He committed himself fully, on and off duty.”
In 2019, it was Klein delivering the eulogy at the funeral of his friend and fellow Ladder 170 firefighter Steven Pollard, who plunged to his death off a highway bridge while rushing to rescue two men trapped in an overturned ve- hicle on the Belt Parkway.