Family of fallen Philadelphia firefighter receives big surprise

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The only thing Michael Bernstein loved more than being a firefighter was his family. On Tuesday, his family received quite a blessing in his honor.

The Bernstein family received a symbolic key that signified their mortgage is now paid in full.

Officials from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation of New York say it is their pleasure to lift this financial weight off the loved ones of a man who served with honor as a Navy Seaman before his 22-year career with the Philadelphia Fire Department.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia firefighter Michael Bernstein laid to rest Tuesday
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Philadelphia firefighter Michael Bernstein laid to rest Tuesday. John Rawlins reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on March 26, 2019.

Foundation spokesperson, Andrew McClure, said, "Home is where it all happens. Without it, you don't have the hub. You don't have that family surrounding. We feel it's a significant burden to take away from the family."

It was nearly two years ago when the 46-year-old Berstein was found unconscious in a hallway inside his firehouse.

The cause of death is publically described only as a medical emergency.

Officials from the local firefighters union say that along with helping Michael's family, Tuesday's event also helps shine a light on sacrifices made by first responders that don't make front-page headlines.
Brian Coughlin from Local 22 says, "Military, first responder, health care workers, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people don't realize, and there's a lot of risk and people tend to forget that sometimes."

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia Fire Department honors fallen firefighter
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Michael Bernstein posthumously promoted to Lieutenant Aas reported during Action News at 6 on October 22, 2019.

But Bernstein's son says the best part is that this gave his mom a reason to smile.

He says, "I'm really happy for her. She deserves it. She's been through so much in the past two years, and it couldn't happen to a better person."

Meanwhile, Bernstein was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant as well, increasing the pension payment to his widow.

Michael Bernstein leaves behind his wife and three children.
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