Steve Brickman of Jamesport, a retired FDNY firefighter who spent nearly two weeks at ground zero following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, died Sunday of illness attributed to 9/11, according to the FDNY. He was 57.
In 2013, Mr. Brickman was diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer and stage 4 lung cancer. Doctors attributed the diseases to the toxins he inhaled at ground zero.
He is survived by his wife Colleen and two sons, Steven and Quinn.
Born June 30, 1962, Mr. Brickman grew up in Flushing, Queens and was drawn to firefighting at a young age. At 23, he officially became a member of the FDNY, joining Engine Company 58/Ladder Company 26 in a busy section of East Harlem.
In 2016, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Mr. Brickman spoke to The Suffolk Times about his experiences as a firefighter and the illness he was fighting. He described the dangers of the job, and the injuries that led to his early retirement prior to 9/11.
In 1990, a ceiling collapsed on Mr. Brickman and embers from the fire caused third-degree burns on his left knee. He missed 8 1/2 months of work. In 1999, he became trapped in an apartment while fighting a fire and ran low on oxygen. He was rescued through a window after firefighters cleared branches to make room. He suffered additional burns, one of which required a skin graft on top of a previous skin graft, a rare procedure at the time that ultimately led to his retirement after only 15 years.
Mr. Brickman was living in Sag Harbor on Sept. 11 when the world changed. He had no obligation to drive into Manhattan and join his fellow firefighters with Engine 58.
There were 343 FDNY firefighters to die in the 9/11 attack. More than 200 firefighters have since died due to illnesses linked to 9/11.
“Steve was an amazing man, an incredible friend, an awesome firefighter and the perfect husband,” a tribute on the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park Facebook page read. “Steve fought his 9/11 illness like a warrior and this man who always volunteered to help others is now pain free.”
About a dozen friends and neighbors held a brief candlelight vigil outside the Brickmans’ Jamesport cottage Tuesday evening, as a way to show support to his family during these times of social distancing.
How to help
Mary Kalich of Mattituck has organized a grocery shopper to shop for the Brinkman family and to give them a budget for food as a gift. Anyone wishing to contribute can contact Ms. Kalich.
“He was a wonderful man who I got to know through the North Fork Community Theatre and Mattituck Yacht Club as we raised our boys together,” Ms. Kalich posted on Facebook.