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North Haven Fire Department Announces Funeral Arrangements for Firefighter Matthias Wirtz

NORTH HAVEN — Chief Paul Januszewski and the North Haven Fire Department are providing an update on the line-of-duty death of Firefighter Matthias Wirtz and his upcoming funeral services next week.

Funeral Arrangements

Calling hours for the public will be held on Monday, Jan. 2, at the North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Ave., in North Haven from 3-7 p.m. Additional information for parking and shuttles will be released at a later date.

Firefighter Wirtz will be honored with the Line of Duty Death Funeral Protocol. The funeral will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at Saint Barnabas Church, Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish located at 44 Washington Ave. beginning at 11 a.m.

Interment will be private at the family’s request.

Investigation Update

The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released the Firefighter Wirtz’s cause of death as hypertensive and cardiovascular disease, with additional contributing factors. Additionally, the manner of death is listed as natural causes.

An investigation conducted by the CT State Police Fire Investigation unit, in cooperation with the North Haven Fire Marshal’s Office, revealed that on Monday, Dec. 26, at approximately 1:11 a.m., Firefighter Wirtz was the driver of the first arriving fire apparatus, Engine #9, that responded to a reported building fire with reports of people inside a multi-family home located at 27 Quinnipiac Ave.

The officer of Engine #9 reported smoke showing from the rear of the building and initiated an interior fire attack and search of upper floors for trapped victims. Based on the fire conditions, the Engine 9 officer also requested a second-alarm to bring additional personnel and equipment to the scene.

Weather conditions were below freezing which complicated fire attack operations by causing immediate icing on surfaces, pumps and hose lines. The fire was located on the second and third floors and was rapidly extending to the attic due to the type of construction and weather conditions. The fire had burned through the exterior wall and was visible from the rear.

Simultaneously, an immediate search of the building was initiated by North Haven Fire and Police officers who helped evacuate all occupants. Working with two other members of his engine company that were calling for additional hose to reach the fire inside the building, Firefighter Wirtz assisted with advancing the initial attack hose line from the exterior doorway, connected a large diameter hose line to the pump to prepare for hydrant water and pumped water to the operating hose lines as well as supporting fire ground operations.

During the fire attack, Firefighter Wirtz collapsed to the ground in the presence of another member that was changing out an air bottle to resume fire attack. Rescue efforts by on scene paramedics from North Haven Fire were immediately initiated and additional responders from North Haven Fire, East Haven Fire and Nelson Ambulance attempted life-saving procedures both on-scene and enroute to the hospital.

“Firefighter Wirtz was actively working under extreme environmental conditions to protect the lives of the occupants and fellow members of his crew inside the building,” Chief Januszewski said. “Firefighter Wirtz remained steadfast at his post ensuring their safety with disregard for his own and is a hero for his actions and ultimate sacrifice for others.”