Funeral for fallen Yonkers firefighter

October 6, 2009 2:36:18 PM PDT
It was an emotional Tuesday for family and friends of a Yonkers firefighter who was killed in the line of duty.A sea of firefighters lined the streets to say goodbye to 39-year-old Patrick Joyce, who died last Friday battling a house fire. Joyce was killed when a burst of flame forced him out a third-story window. Two other firefighters were seriously injured.

It was the picture of brotherhood, as more than 1,000 firefighters gathered outside the church. And for the victim's relatives, the picture sheds new meaning on the definition of family.

On a sun-drenched fall day in the Bronx, the fire truck carrying Joyce's body moved down Riverdale Avenue, past a legion of firefighters who came from near and far to say goodbye to a fallen colleague.

"We all loved this guy very much," Yonkers firefighter Joe Pinto said. "This was one of the best guys on the job. We're not just saying that...Great guy. Great family man, great businessman, just a great all-around person."

They came from Buffalo and Toronto, Maryland and Connecticut. They stood alongside their grieving brothers from Yonkers, Westchester County and the FDNY.

Meantime, the Joyce family and friends mourned the loss of the husband and father.

"I've seen a lot of these funerals, been to a lot of them," said Charlie Tucker, of the Fairview Fire Department. "The family is just overwhelmed. They just can't believe that somebody could be this loved."

"We're just glad to be able to give our condolences to this unfortunate event," Euclid, Ohio, firefighter Tad Haddock said. "We know these guys are really hurting."

Along with the sadness over Joyce's death, there is anger as well. His sacrifice came in a fire set by an alleged arsonist. A 33-year-old tenant who was being evicted has been charged with murder.

"Needless, aggravating, whatever words you want, they're all there," Toronto firefighter Pete Ferenz said. "It's just a total shame that something like this had to happen."

When he was on the job, Joyce spent much of his time aboard the Rescue 1 truck. From here on out, whenever that truck responds to a scene, the onlookers will see a new message on the side of the truck: "In Memory of Firefighter Patrick Joyce."

Joyce was a 16-year veteran. He leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.



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