N.Y.C. Firefighter, 33, Who Died After Battling 2-Alarm House Fire Remembered as a 'Brave Young Man'

The Fire Department of New York said that Jesse Gerhard, a seven-year veteran firefighter, died a day after he "operated extensively" at a fire in Far Rockaway

Eric Adams
Photo: fdny

A New York City firefighter died shortly after battling a fire in Queens.

On Thursday, the Fire Department of New York announced via social media that Jesse Gerhard, a seven-year veteran firefighter, died a day after he "operated extensively" at a fire in Far Rockaway.

The FDNY's Instagram post said that on Wednesday, firefighter Gerhard "suffered a medical episode while on-duty in his firehouse – Ladder Company 134 in Far Rockaway, Queens – and was transported to St. John's Episcopal Hospital where he later died." He was 33.

On Wednesday night, Gerhard's fellow firemen heard "a noise like a collapse and responded to find him unconscious," Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said, via CBS New York. He died on Thursday morning, the outlet reported.

"Firefighter Jesse Gerhard dreamed of being a Firefighter his entire life; and he lived that dream, bravely serving the residents of Queens by battling fires and rescuing New Yorkers from harm," said Mayor Adams, via the FDNY Instagram post. "The heartbreaking loss of this brave young man who was so committed to saving others is a painful reminder of the dangerous and difficult work New York City Firefighters do every single day."

"As a Firefighter and an EMT, Jesse Gerhard served our city with incredible courage and valor, always rushing into danger and risking his life to save others," Kavanagh said, also via the post. "Our entire Department is in mourning over the tragic death of this extraordinary young man who always answered the call and never wavered in his sworn duty to save others."

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The post — which featured a picture of Gerhard, along with the two-alarm fire he battled on Tuesday — said that he was first appointed to the FDNY as an Emergency Medical Technician in July 2014.

After serving in two fire stations in Manhattan and later in Far Rockaway, he entered the Fire Academy in December 2017 and graduated in April 2018.

"Firefighter Gerhard is the 1,156th member of the #FDNY to die in the line-of-duty," the FDNY post read. "A resident of Long Beach, he is survived by his parents, his brother, and sister-in-law. The last member of the Department to die in the line of duty was Lieutenant Joseph Maiello, who died on December 26, 2021. Funeral arrangements are pending."

On Tuesday, Gerhard responded with his station to the fire in Far Rockaway, where he was assigned to the "irons" position — which meant he was the first to enter the burning building by forcing open doors in order to search for victims — officials said, according to CBS NY.

"It's a very strenuous position to be in, probably the most strenuous of all the different positions that we do work in," Chief of Department Thomas Richardson told the outlet. "It was very hot and smoky fire. It was a lot of fire on multiple floors of the building."

Gerhard's cause of death remains under investigation. The cause of death hasn't been determined, but CBS NY reported that fire officials suspect cardiac arrest.

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