Thousands of firefighters were in Connecticut on Friday for the funerals of two firefighters who died in the line of duty last weekend.
On Friday morning, the streets of Bridgeport were lined with firefighters in uniform as a community from the across the state, and beyond, gathered to pay their respects.
A funeral was held on Friday morning for Bridgeport Fire Lt. Steven Velasquez at St. Augustine’s in Bridgeport. His casket was carried to the church by a fire truck.
As Velasquez’s casket was lowered from the truck, the firefighters family and all 350 members of the city’s fire department followed behind.
Velasquez and Firefighter Michel Baik died on Saturday while battling a house fire in Bridgeport.
After services for Lt. Velasquez ended, firefighters then headed to St. Nicholas Church for the funeral of rookie firefighter Baik.
Firefighters from around the country came to honor their fallen brothers. "Today is about the celebration of the life of two firefighters that gave their lives for the citizens of Bridgeport," Boston firefighter Ralph Dowling said. "It's just a day to show the family that their family doesn't end at the door. It stretches across the country."
Lt. Velasquez served the Fire Department for 20 years, and he was just married two weeks ago. Baik was Bridgeport's oldest rookie, fulfilling a life-long dream to be a firefighter at age 49.
Joe Fitzpatrick, who lives in Waterbury but served as a New York City firefighter, wanted to honor the men even though he didn't know them. "We're all brothers. It becomes one big department countrywide when an occasion like this happens," Fitzpatrick said.
Lt. Velasquez and Firefighter Baik were buried in private services Friday afternoon.