A tribute was paid to a fallen firefighter, who died in the line of duty, doing what he loved.
Thousands of firefighters, family and friends gathered Monday morning to remember 48-year-old Hartford firefighter Kevin Bell.
Bell was killed while responding to a two-alarm fire at a two-family home on Blue Hills Avenue on Oct. 7.
Skies were overcast and gray, reflecting the somber mood outside of the First Cathedral in Bloomfield as the husband, father and friend was laid to rest.
Calling hours began at shortly after 10 a.m. and were followed by a funeral mass. One by one, heartbroken family members and firefighters paid their final respects, before Bell's casket was closed and the celebration of his life continued.
"Let it be known the loss of firefighter Bell in combat will never be forgotten,” Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas said.
Pastor Stacie Harris-Byrdsong of New Generation Christian Center Church delivered the Eulogy. Burial and private ceremony were held at Mount St. Benedict in Bloomfield.
“Thank you for your selfless service to the city of Hartford. You paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting strangers you never even met,” Vincent Fusco said.
Bell, who was born and raised in the City of Hartford, was a six-year member of the department. The Weaver High School graduate was first a school security officer in the Hartford Public School System and then became a fire recruit six years ago. He followed the footsteps of his cousin retired chief Charles Teale.
“He was head and shoulders above the rest. He would do more and more and he did, became a hero, our hero,” Teale said.
Firefighters Kevin Burk, Colin McWeeny and Jason Martinez were injured fighting the blaze that was a block from Engine 16. McWeeny, was among the pallbearers.
His wife, Wayette, and daughter, Raquel, were at the ceremony. When Bell wasn't fighting fires or with his family he was making music as a disc jockey and recruiting new talent as DJ Kutmaster B-stro.
He was inspiration to Shawn Bell Jr. and at the ceremony, he shared cards from his fifth grade classmates.
“Shawn, stay strong, sorry for your loss. He's in a better place now,” Shawn Bell said as he read the letters. “Dear Shawn, Get better, we know this is a hard time for your family.”
"Very respectful man who just loved doing things for the community and we just want to come out and celebrate him," said Laverne Terry of Hartford.
Investigators have not said what happened inside the house that lead to Bell's death.
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra issued a statement Monday morning. He said he will submit a resolution to the Hartford City Council to formally rename Engine 16 to the "Kevin Lamont Bell Fire Station."
"He was lost but not forgotten, join together to rename engine 16-in his honor,” Segarra said.
Segarra said that the resolution will be submitted during a meeting Tuesday. The council will decide whether or not to adopt it.
Blue Hills Avenue was shut down between Wintonbury Avenue and Cottage Grove Road between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cottage Grove Road was also be closed between Blue Hills Avenue and the Windsor town line. Delays were experienced on I-291 and Route 5 in South Windsor.
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