PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds gathered to remember an 11-year Philadelphia Fire Department veteran who lost his life fighting a fire last Saturday.
A funeral was held Friday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul for Lt. Matt LeTourneau.
The 42-year-old died battling a fire in North Philadelphia.
Hundreds of firefighters from across the region and world paid their last respects to LeTourneau.
“Whatever the patch says on your shirt or the color of the truck you ride, we do the same thing. We provide the same service and when someone goes down like this, I think all of us mourn,” said Capt. Robert Matthews from Norfolk, Virginia.
His casket was placed atop Engine 45, the very fire truck he used to ride while heroically doing his job, during the somber funeral procession to the church.
His casket was gently carried inside as his fellow firefighters stood outside with their arms raised in salute.
LeTourneau worked for the Philadelphia Fire Department for 11 years.
The remarks of remembrance began at 10:30 a.m. as Mayor Jim Kenney noted LeTourneau’s love of animals and his commitment to faith, family and his job.
“Matt was an exceptional, an exceptional, firefighter. During 11 proud years as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department, he was widely recognized and respected for his exceptional work and in 2015 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant,” said Kenney. “Matt, every day of his life, was truly a hero and we’re all better off because of his bravery and service.”
Philadelphia Fire Department Commissioner Adam Thiel also spoke, describing LeTourneau as a firefighter’s firefighter, saying he breathed and slept his job, and was entirely committed to the city.
“He will be with us. Matt is not gone, he has simply gone ahead. He had joined a company of heroes down that smoky hallway, making it safe for the rest of us,” said Thiel.
The outpouring of support continued for LeTourneau following the funeral mass as a fire truck carrying his casket made its way down I-95. People gathered on highway overpasses in the pouring rain to salute the fallen firefighter.
The scene was similar in Springfield, Delaware County as mourners stood at attention when the procession arrived at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, the final resting place for LeTourneau.
The Philadelphia Fire Department announced it will posthumously promote LeTourneau to captain during a scheduled promotion day on Jan. 26.