By Katie McFadden
At The Big House, late Firefighter Jesse Gerhard will never be forgotten. That’s been proven every day since the 33-year-old collapsed at the firehouse on February 16, 2022, and later died after battling a blaze in Far Rockaway. On Saturday, March 11, friends, family and fellow firefighters gathered at Ladder 134 on Central Ave for a plaque dedication ceremony and the unveiling of a new mural donning the brick walls, in honor of Gerhard.
Gerhard, a resident of Long Island and volunteer for the Islip Fire Department, was a seven-year member of the FDNY. “For Jesse, being a firefighter was a calling, as it is for so many people of the fire department,” Jesse’s father, Bruce Gerhard said.
Gerhard was a son, a brother, an uncle, a godfather, a master craftsman and carpenter, and all around, a good man. His loss was felt throughout Ladder 134 and the entire FDNY community last year. On Saturday, his firehouse hosted the Gerhard family for a plaque dedication. The plaque will don the walls of The Big House for years to come. The Uniformed Firefighters Associated of Greater New York also presented a plaque to the family.
“One year ago, we lost a special person. He was special in so many of the ways that all of our members are—generous, giving, always putting others first,” FDNY Commissioner, Laura Kavanagh said.
The members of the firehouse also unveiled a memorial tribute they built into the walls of The Big House, featuring Jesse’s jacket, helmet and photos, with the quote “Work Hard, Play Hard,” underneath.
“We make a vow to never forget and today when we gather here for a plaque dedication for firefighter Jesse Gerhard, we are making good on that promise,” John Hodgens, Chief of Department, said. “We are creating a lasting memorial for Jesse.”
Photos from the UFA.