An 18 year veteran of the Newburyport Fire Department and a reserve member of the city police department lost his fight with brain cancer on Thursday.

Brett Burkinshaw, 47, of Merrimac died on Thursday after the 19 month battle. He will be buried with a formal firefighter funeral with full honors in recognition of his occupational line of duty death, according to the department.

He is survived by his wife and daughter Emma.  In June Emma threw the ceremonial first pitch in a game at the Bert Spofford Tournament. His high school alma mater, Pentucket High School, was one of the participating schools. Host school Georgetown High School donated all the proceeds from its concession stand to the Burkinshaw family.

Newburyport fire chief Christopher LeClaire said his department was devastated by the news of Burkinshaw's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time. Firefighter Burkinshaw was a remarkable, kind person who made a lasting impression on many people, as has been evident by the profound community support in the wake of his diagnosis."

Newburyport police said Burkinshaw "emulated a first responder and service to others was in his blood. It was an honor to have him as a member of the Newburyport Police Department. He will be sorely missed."

Burkinshaw put his skills as an electrician to work for the city and repaired wiring in emergency lights and sirens in fire engines and police cruisers which saved the city thousands of dollars.

Funeral arrangements for Burkinshaw have not yet been announced.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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