YORK, Maine — Firefighters from across New England on Monday honored York Village Assistant Chief Brian Starkey, who died July 1 at the age of 48.
Starkey served with the department for over 30 years, according to York Village Fire Chief Chris Balentine.
Starkey was a third-generation firefighter who loved two things: the fire department and his family, said those interviewed.
“He was happiest when he was with his brothers, driving his beloved Engine 6,” said paramedic Bob Brown, who gave Starkey’s eulogy at St. Christopher Church.
“Brian meant an awful lot to an awful lot of people,” he said. “He knew every firefighter from Maine to Connecticut.”
Father John Skehan, the station’s chaplain, presided over the funeral service attended by church-filled rows of firefighters and police officers.
“It’s amazing the brotherhood that exists,” Skehan said.
Outside the church, York Village firefighter Peter Humphrey carried Starkey’s helmet in a procession which led past the fire station on York Street to the First Parish Church Cemetery.
In front of the station, York Beach and Ogunquit ladder trucks saluted Starkey with ladders raised across the road, an American flag held aloft between the trucks.
Starkey’s helmet and the flag that draped his casket were later placed on the back of Engine 6 at the station.
Humphrey gave a bell three quick rings, three times, signaling “retired to quarters.”
“Your task is complete, your duty is done,” Humphrey said.
The station’s siren sounded three times.
Chief Balentine presented Starkey’s son, Luke Starkey, with a plaque honoring his father.
Luke Starkey is a fourth-generation firefighter. He grew up working with his father on the Mount Agamenticus fire tower, “learning the trade,” he said.
“He was a great family man,” said Luke Starkey of the man, who was his stepfather but whom he called “dad,” he said.
Capt. Paul Balentine, son of Village Fire Chief Chris Balentine, is also a fourth-generation firefighter. He and Brian Starkey began going to the fire station as kids and grew up together, he said.
“He was a very good friend of mine,” Paul Balentine said. “He put countless hours into the fire department. Brian was a guy you could call up, anything you needed, he would give the shirt off his back.”
And then he would buy you another shirt, Humphrey said.
“He was a big man,” Humphrey said. “His personality was larger than life.”
Assistant Chief Gardner Marshall, who has been with the department since 1980, said Starkey “lived around the fire department all his life. We knew each other as kids. He was a friend to everybody.”
Starkey was a “fire buff” who listened to the scanner and sent out notifications of fires and accidents as Southern Maine Car 101.
“Any fire, any incident, he always knew about it,” Chief Balentine said.
“Even when he got ill, he was sending out fire pages from his house,” Brown said.
Because of his involvement in the notification system, he knew firefighters from around the region.
Many attended Monday’s funeral.
“The man had a heart of gold,” said Gene Lynch of Woburn, Massachusetts.
Mike Hinds of Alfred said, “He loved this community, he loved all fire-related events.”
Starkey and his wife, Bonnie, were instrumental in starting the Explorer program for young firefighters, said those interviewed.
Starkey also helped organize the annual field day musters. He spent many years with the York Ambulance Association as well as working for American Medical Response ambulance service.
Pallbearers included Lt. Nick Hilton, Capt. Paul Balentine, Deputy Chief Peter Humphrey, Lt. Paul Dubois of Sanford, Capt. Scott Apgar, firefighter Mike Moore, paramedic Bob Brown, firefighter Josh Allen and Kittery police Officer Zack Harmon.