Thomas F. Brown, 55, Balto. County firefighter

December 22, 2003

Thomas F. Brown, a veteran Baltimore County firefighter, died Thursday of a heart attack at his Perry Hall home. He was 55.

Mr. Brown hours earlier had battled a house fire and then assisted a cardiac-arrest patient while working an overnight shift at the Dundalk fire station. He returned home and went to sleep in his uniform and "he never woke up," said Michael K. Day Sr., president of Local 1311, Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Mr. Day said that County Executive James T. Smith Jr. has ruled that Mr. Brown's death was job-related. Mr. Day said flags in the county will be flown at half-staff until Jan. 18.

Born and raised in Essex, Mr. Brown was a 1968 graduate of Archbishop Curley High School in Northeast Baltimore. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and his assignments included honor guard duty at funerals.

After his discharge from the military in 1971, he joined the Sparrows Point Fire Department, which served the sprawling Bethlehem Steel Corp. plant. Two decades later, that station was absorbed by the county Fire Department and he continued to serve in Sparrows Point.

He later was assigned to stations in Towson, Golden Ring and Dundalk. He held the rank of fire specialist.

Capt. Joseph P. Griebel, Mr. Brown's shift supervisor, said he was widely respected and liked.

"He was easygoing and yet motivated in a quiet way," Captain Griebel said. "He was a valued peer mentor and he was immensely proud of his son, Jeremy, who was a baseball pitcher at Johns Hopkins University and got a mention last year in Sports Illustrated."

Captain Griebel said he played golf regularly with Mr. Brown, who scored in the low 80s. They played in charity tournaments and enjoyed traveling to North Carolina and Florida to compete.

A funeral with full departmental honors will be held at 10 a.m. today, starting at Schimunek Funeral Home, 9705 Belair Road, Perry Hall. A Fire Department procession will conclude at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 E. Padonia Road in Timonium.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 27 years, the former Charlene Smith; a brother, Anthony Brown of Chase, a sergeant in the Baltimore Police Department; and four nephews.

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