Join us at FDIC for Stop, Drop, Rock 'n' Roll, FDIC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, and more!
Visit us in Booth #8853.
Close this search box.
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 46
Year of Death: 2019

Michael J. Bernstein

Firefighter Michael J. Bernstein passed away while serving the citizens of Philadelphia.

Born on October 6, 1972 and raised in northeast Philadelphia, Michael was blessed with loving parents and three little brothers, Robert, Danny, and Dave. He received his sacraments and education at St. Martin de Tours parish and school. He went on to Mercy Technical School and graduated in 1990, focusing on plumbing. He proudly stated that he never fixed a toilet or used any information the program offered him.

After high school, he served in the United States Navy, working as a chef on a nuclear submarine. For years, he used his naval culinary taste and skills to create meals for countless family parties. He would proudly tell anyone that his naval service taught him many things, but most importantly that Navy stood for Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

The proudest moments of his life were just beginning when he was accepted to the Philadelphia Fire Academy. This watershed moment would define a man in his courage and loyalty. Michael received a letter of commendation in December 2009.

He met his future wife, Cathy, just before he began the academy, thus sparing her the difficult decision not to fall in love with a fireman. They married in 1999, and their family grew with the addition of Michael, Victoria, and Jacob. By 2004, Michael’s house was filled with laughter, pizza, Mountain Dew, and all the diapers a man could desire.

Michael loved Philadelphia sports, taking a wager now and then on football, and losing the lottery weekly. He loved traveling to Florida, especially Disney World and the Phillies during Spring Training. He loved Christmas and began shopping in August. His time with his son Michael in Nashville was one of his favorite trips. His love of Metallica and devotion to his daughter Victoria’s One Direction was matched only by his enthusiasm for fashion: white Nikes, acid wash jeans, Hard Rock t-shirts, and Eagles or Flyers hat.

Michael is survived by his beloved wife, Catherine; his loving children, Michael, Victoria, and Jacob; his caring parents, Jerry and Dale Bernstein; his siblings, Robert (Susan), Daniel (John), and David (Jennifer); his in-laws, Richard and Anne Shay; his brothers-in-law, Richard Shay, Robert Shay (Nicole), and Michael (Anita) Shay; sisters-in-law, Anne Martin (Dan) and Sandra Colfer (Michael); and many nieces and nephews.

Michael was loved as he loved—through his dedication to his family, his life as a firefighter, and his city.

Memorial Posts


Memorial Wall

  • (will not be published)

  1. God bless you Mike.

    – David P Kearney
  2. I am one of the cousins. One thing people also don’t know is that me and him did something on my sister Michelles bday, December 30 . In 2001, I hit a royal flush in tropicana casino, and in 2002 he went to get cheap cigarettes with his dad, Jerry, in Delaware Park, he hit for $20,500 on 2 different slot machines. His mother Dale, didn’t believe it at first. We’re the only 2 cousins to ever do it.
    Even before his death, we hadn’t spoken since in a few years. When I was on facebook. I deactivated in 2015 right before my dad passed. if anyone reads this.

    Steve Forman
  3. I will rewrite this again. Mike and I shared something similiar in a way. We both did something on my sisters bday in 2001 and 2002. We both had winnings at the casinos , 2 different ones. Last time we spoke was on facebook , early 2010s before I deactivated my user account in 2015. worry about today, you never know about tomorrow.

    Steve Forman