Retired FDNY FF, 9/11 responder dies on anniversary of attacks

Retired FDNY Firefighter Timmy Burke, 51, died on Friday due to 9/11-related complications, family members said


Tracey Porpora
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

NEW YORK — Upon hearing that an airplane hit the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, Timmy Burke, then a firefighter with Engine 202/Ladder 101 in Manhattan, said: “We thought it was a little Cessna, some little accident, but we knew it was going to be a good fire, a big one, we were ready, we were excited.”

That’s what Burke told Gear magazine shortly after he responded as one of New York’s bravest to one of the greatest tragedies to occur on U.S. soil.

Burke, 51, formerly of Annadale, loved being a firefighter. He fought that day. And he survived.

But on the 19th anniversary of the tragedy, he succumbed to 9/11-related complications, said his brother Danny Burke.

“In my opinion, my brother really died on Sept. 11, 2001. He was never the same person again,” said Burke. “He suffered from PTSD since then.”

‘A HERO’

Being a firefighter was among what Timmy Burke loved most about life, said his brother.

Timmy Burke told Gear magazine: “We pulled up to the towers, the second building had just been hit, and it’s roaring in flames, and suddenly there’s gravel and debris everywhere and body parts.”

“...Our battalion went in with a total of 43 men. We lost 20. Ladder-101 and Engine-202 went in with 12 guys; we came out with five. You’ve got to understand; there were no heroes in there. We were just doing our jobs,” said Burke in the interview.

But his brother begs to differ.

“When they retired Timmy, it killed him. He always wanted to be a hero and he was,” he said of his brother.

Timmy Burke, the father of two teenagers, was later assigned to Rescue 5 in Concord before retiring about nine years ago.

In a Facebook post, Timmy Burke described the impact 9/11 had on his life.

“To explain 9/11 that day doesn’t do it justice; it was more than a single day for first responders. ...Not a day goes by without me questioning.... [I was] one of five to go home. A month ago my oldest brother said he lost a part of me that day. I think he was right. But it wasn’t just that day. It was all the other days hoping to find what was left of your friends and strangers...We are all broke from those events," said Timmy Burke on Facebook.

REMEMBERING HIS SPIRIT

But anyone who knew Timmy Burke, enjoyed his sarcastic and witty humor, which would often have a crowd of friends chuckling at any occasion.

“I want people to remember Timmy’s spirit, and how he made everybody laugh,” he added. “He loved life, and he loved his children.”

A graduate of Tottenville High School, Timmy Burke attended the College of Staten Island. Before joining the city Fire Department, he was a journeyman for the electrician’s union, Local 3. He was a coach for Staten Island Boys Football League, as well as other sports teams on the Island.

He also volunteered his time to support the High Rock Challenge Build and helped maintain trails at Wolfe’s Pond Park, Prince’s Bay and in the Greenbelt.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Scarpachi Funeral Home, Pleasant Plains. There will be visitation on Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. A mass will be held Wednesday at St. Thomas R.C. Church, Pleasant Plains at 9:30 a.m. Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery, Pleasant Plains.

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©2020 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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