Funeral set for firefighter who collapsed day after blaze

February 20, 2022 GMT

ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — A funeral has been scheduled for a New York City firefighter who collapsed in his firehouse a day after battling a blaze in Queens.

Jesse Gerhard was from Islip and was working out of a firehouse in Far Rockaway when he died Wednesday. 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.

Fellow firefighters attempted to revive him using CPR, but he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

A day earlier, he had helped fight a fire in Queens. According to the Fire Department of New York, the 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.