FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (PIX11) — FDNY firefighter Jesse Gerhard, 33, died after suffering a medical episode Wednesday night, a day after battling a house fire in Queens, according to the FDNY.

“I can not express what an extraordinary loss this is for our department,” acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at a Thursday briefing alongside Mayor Eric Adams.

The department said Gerhard and his fellow firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at a home on Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway just after 4 p.m. Tuesday. As the first arriving ladder company, they were charged with searching for any trapped occupants inside the three-story house, which was fully engulfed in flames.

Fallen FDNY firefighter Jesse Gerhard
FDNY firefighter Jesse Gerhard, 33, died after a medical episode on Feb. 16, 2022, a day after responding to a Queens house fire in Far Rockaway. (FDNY)

Gerhard was assigned to the “irons” position, meaning he was responsible for gaining entry to the building by forcing open the door so firefighters could enter to battle the blaze and join him in the search for anyone inside, officials said.

The fire was brought under control at 5:49 p.m. and four civilians suffered minor injuries, the FDNY said. The cause of the blaze remained under investigation Thursday.

The next day, just before 11 p.m., Gerhard was on duty at his firehouse in Far Rockaway when he suffered a medical episode, the FDNY said. Members of his firehouse immediately provided aid and he was then rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died. His cause of death had yet to be determined, as of Thursday morning.

“We really don’t know what happened at this time, but we’re investigating all possibilities,” John Hodgens, acting Chief of Department, said at Thursday morning’s briefing.

The acting commissioner shared that Gerhard, who is survived by his parents and brother, had dreamed his whole life of becoming part of the FDNY.

“This was everything he wanted, there was no other job for him,” she said.

Gerhard had been with the FDNY for a total of seven years, first as an EMT for three years, according to Kavanagh. He was appointed as an EMT in July 2014 and first assigned to Station 10 in Manhattan and later served at Station 47 in Far Rockaway.

He joined 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. He transferred to Ladder Company 134 in March 2020, in the same firehouse as Engine Company 264.

“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 added.

Video obtained by PIX11 showed multiple FDNY, EMS and NYPD vehicles in an early morning procession through Manhattan, escorting the body of the fallen firefighter to the morgue.

Gerhard is the 1,156th member of the FDNY to die in the line of duty, according to the department.