Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A volunteer firefighter is laid to rest after he dies in the line of duty.
Derek Valcourt has more on the honors for 25-year-old Gene Kirchner.
A touching ceremony. Hundreds turned out to honor the young man who sacrificed his life trying to save someone else’s.
Along Main Street in Reisterstown, salutes from fellow firefighters and even strangers as Gene Kirchner’s funeral procession paused briefly in front of the fire hall.
His twin brother and best friend, Will Kirchner, consoled by his firefighting family before the procession continued on.
Full funeral honors included teams of firefighters from all over the state–on hand to pay tribute to the 25-year-old–who died little more than a week after suffering serious injuries when he rushed into a burning home to try to rescue a trapped person.
“Tremendous bravery. He’s certainly a hero,” said Risa Galler.
“It’s a tragedy that someone so young died so soon. But he died doing what he loved,” said James Richard.
“And this is all a volunteer position, which is so amazing that he did this. He sacrificed his life and he didn’t even get a paycheck for it, so we came to pay honor and tribute for him,” said Jodi Dinkin.
His funeral–packed with friends, family and hundreds of firefighters. The Reisterstown fire chief paid tribute on behalf of the fire service.
“The Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Department has lost a brother and a friend, but I want to make it very clear that Gene is a hero,” said Chief Robert Murray Sr., Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Co.
“My little brother was a selfless, dedicated and giving young man,” said Shelly Brezicki, victim’s sister.
Kirchner’s older sister Shelly spoke on behalf of his family–a family left heartbroken by the loss of a young man who meant so much to so many.
“Rest in peace my little brother. We love you and know that you will guide us from here,” said Brezicki.
After the funeral, Kirchner’s casket was loaded onto a firetruck and driven over to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium where he was laid to rest.
Kirchner graduated from Owings Mills High School, where a special scholarship is being set up in his honor.