Funeral Set for FDNY Firefighter Who Died Suddenly After 2-Alarm Blaze

Jesse Gerhard became the 1,156th member of the FDNY to die in the line of duty

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A funeral has been scheduled for a New York City firefighter who collapsed in his firehouse a day after battling a blaze in Queens.

Firefighter Jesse B. Gerhard, 33, died Wednesday after responding to a two-alarm fire in Queens on Tuesday, acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. Gerhard was from Islip and was working out of a firehouse in Far Rockaway.

He suddenly collapsed Wednesday night at his firehouse, Kavanagh told a news conference Thursday morning, and died at a local hospital. Despite earlier reports he'd suffered a heart attack, Kavanagh said a cause of death is not yet clear.

The 33-year-old’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Bay Shore.

The New York City medical examiner’s office told Newsday an initial examination of Gerhard has been conducted but didn’t say whether there were any preliminary findings. It’s expected to be a few weeks before the full autopsy is completed.

Gerhard, a former EMT, was first appointed a probationary firefighter in Dec. 2017.

He became the 1,156th FDNY member to die in the line of duty.

According to the Fire Department of New York, Tuesday's fire in the three-story house was brought under control in about two hours, with minor injuries reported to four people. Gerhard was tasked with forcing open doors to gain entrance to the structure and any interior search areas.

The FDNY’s medical office, in conjunction with a board of municipal doctors, will examine the circumstances leading to Gerhard’s death and the nature of the fire he was fighting, to determine if the death will be considered to have occurred in the line of duty, Barry Salzman, an attorney whose firm represents the families of dead police officers and firefighters, told Newsday.

A formal determination that the death was in the line of duty unlocks greater monetary and health benefits for a firefighter’s family. A team of specialists and lawyers also reviews a firefighter’s death to determine whether the family is eligible to receive a one-time federal death benefit, the newspaper reported.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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