New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh today announced the death of Firefighter Jesse Gerhard, 33, a seven-year veteran of the Department. On Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 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. Firefighter Gerhard had operated extensively at a 2-alarm fire in Far Rockaway the previous day.
“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. “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,” said Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “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.”
On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, at 04:05 p.m., Firefighter Gerhard responded to a fire at 25-43 Beach Channel Drive along with his fellow members of Ladder Company 134. As the first arriving Ladder Company, they were charged with searching for any trapped occupants inside the 3-story occupied private dwelling, which was fully engulfed in flames on all three floors and in the basement. Firefighter Gerhard was assigned to the “irons” position, meaning he was responsible for gaining entry to the building by forcing open the door so that Firefighters could enter to fight the fire and join him in searching for those who may have been trapped. The fire was brought under control at 05:49 p.m. There were four minor injuries to civilians. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Fire Marshals.
Shortly before 11:00 p.m. the next day, on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, Firefighter Gerhard was on-duty at his firehouse in Far Rockaway, Queens when he suffered a medical episode. The members of his firehouse immediately provided emergency medical care and he was then rushed to the hospital where he later died.
Firefighter Gerhard was appointed to the FDNY as an Emergency Medical Technician in July 2014 and was first assigned to Station 10 in Manhattan and later served at Station 47 in Far Rockaway. He entered the Fire Academy in December 2017 and, after graduating in April 2018, was first assigned as a Firefighter to Engine Company 264 in Far Rockaway. In March 2020, he transferred to Ladder Company 134, located in the same firehouse as Engine Company 264 in Far Rockaway. He was honored for bravery once in his career.
Firefighter Gerhard is the 1,156th member of the FDNY to die in the line-of-duty. 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.