‘Beacon of light’: Firefighter killed in Loudoun Co. home explosion remembered as loving stay-at-home dad and selfless hero

Firefighter killed in home explosion remembered in emotional ceremony

A volunteer firefighter who was killed in a Sterling, Virginia, home explosion in February was remembered as a loving stay-at-home father, a devoted husband and a selfless hero on Monday.

During a service at Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, as officials presented flags to Trevor Brown’s family, firefighters passed along three teddy bears, each imprinted with a photo of Trevor Brown, 45 — one for each of his three young children.

It’s estimated that around 3,000 people including fire and rescue crews from all over the region, attended the service.

Brown had been a member of the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company since 2016. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

David Short, chief of the volunteer fire company, said Brown was a “family man.”

“Trevor had three great children that he loves very much,” Short said. “He even had a special routine to say goodbye to them before each shift and he loves to talk about them.”

Keith Johnson, the system chief of the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System, characterized Brown as a stay at home dad. He said though some volunteers on the force hold high profile jobs: “Trevor’s last assignment required no Ph.D., no master’s degree to learn. It was simply the job of being an incredible father, whose main priority was taking care of his family. I’m sure he considered that Friday night duty crew part of his family.”

Among those who spoke at the memorial was Trevor’s father, Thomas Brown, who shared stories of his son’s sense of humor as well as his love for learning from a young age.

“As his father, I so loved our strong hello and goodbye hugs and talks,” Thomas said of his son. “Trevor Bryan Brown is our absolute hero who selflessly supported and protected us with great goodness.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who spoke at the memorial, called Brown a “beacon of light.”

“Everyone who knew Trevor said he loved to be outdoors. He loved to barbecue. He loved to coach youth soccer and baseball. He loved his family. He loved his community. And he loved his country,” Youngkin said.

He also ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at all state and local buildings on Monday in memory and respect of Brown.

Brown also went out of his way to interact with children in the community, according to Short, saying he was often the first to volunteer for public education events and birthday parties.

“This big man loved to kneel down and share a moment with the children in the neighborhood,” Short said.

Brown was born in Germany but grew up in Florida, where he met his wife, Laura, according to Johnson. He also served in the Marine Corps.

Sterling explosion

The explosion on Feb. 16 that killed Brown — and injured more than a dozen other people — was believed to have been caused by a leak in a 500-gallon underground propane tank, according to a preliminary investigation by the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s office.

One firefighter who was injured in the explosion, Brian Diamond, remains hospitalized after sustaining severe burn injuries, according to Thomas Owens, a former chief of the Sterling department.

The blast was so significant that it reached neighboring homes. Three of those homes were deemed unsafe to live in, according to the fire marshal’s investigation.

“Trevor answered that call for help, as he always did, without hesitation, without reservation, and without an immediate concern for his own well being,” Owens said at Monday’s service. “Trevor went on selflessly, knowing that a friend or a neighbor or a perfect stranger was in need of his help.”

Several speakers made note of the challenges facing fire departments across the country including staffing, concerns about safety and lack of access to benefits such as retirement funds or mental health services. Johnson called on elected leaders to better support fire departments.

“Our community of Loudoun County has stepped up but I need everyone to realize the protection of life and property that your public safety agencies provide is not free, and it’s not without risk,” Johnson said.

WTOP’s Kate Corliss contributed to this report.

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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