Son achieves dream of becoming FDNY firefighter, following in steps of father who died on 9/11

Bill Ritter Image
Monday, November 9, 2015
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Bill Ritter has the story.

NEW YORK -- Brendon Stackpole is following in the footsteps of his father Timothy, a firefighter who nearly died battling a house fire. One day after he returned to the job, September 11th happened, and Tim was one of the victims.

Now his son steps into his boots.

Nearly 300 new firefighters were sworn in Friday for the FDNY's 150th anniversary class.

Every one of them with some kind of back story, but none, perhaps, like Brendan Stackpole's.

He's wanted to be a firefighter, "Since I was born," he said.

Now, he is one, just like his dad.

His dad was a firefighter whom we at Eyewitness News knew well, not just because of how he fought fires, but also because of how he fought back.

In June 1998 in East New York, Brooklyn, four houses erupted in flames.

More than 200 firefighters would battle this blaze.

When Tim Stackpole got there, he rushed in looking for people who were trapped.

Suddenly, the second floor collapsed and Tim was on fire.

"I remember the excruciating pain that we all felt, my legs were burning, my ankles, they were burned down to the bone, and I remember just praying to God, you know, just let me die bravely," Tim said.

Two other firefighters did die in that inferno, but Tim did not.

What followed was three years of rehab. He didn't have to come back, but he couldn't stay away.

He returned to work and was promoted to captain on September 10, 2001.

The next day, was the attack on the World Trade Center, and Tim was killed.

That brings us back to present day, when Tim's son Brendon, who was just 9 when his dad died, became like his father, a New York Firefighter.

Emotional to be sure, his mom Tara is thrilled, but Brendon is trying to be calm like a firefighter.

"I think he'd be proud, but I think he'd say this is just a small step in a long journey," Brendon said.

Tim Stackpole was part of our "Operation 7 Save a Life" fire safety campaign, recovering in the Weill Cornell Burn Center.

Eyewitness News saluted him and his wife Tara.

Now, we salute their son Brendon, carrying on the family tradition.

So is the FDNY, they have assigned Brendon to the same fire house in Brooklyn where his father started years ago.