NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hundreds packed the pews of St. Therese Roman Catholic Church in North Haven on Thursday to bid a final farewell to Lt. Anthony DeSimone. 

DeSimone died last week after completing a 38-hour shift. He arrived home, collapsed and was pronounced dead at Yale New Haven Hospital. He was 50 years old. 

Leaders said the North Haven native spent 23 years with the fire department and previously served as a volunteer firefighter, as well as a dispatcher with the New Haven Police Department. 

North Haven Fire Chief Paul Januszewski said DeSimone was passionate and a leader. 

“People looked up to him,” Januszewski said. “When they needed an answer, [DeSimone] was there. That’s a powerful person to be a firefighter.” 

Desimone is the second North Haven firefighter to die within eight months. 

In December 2022, Matthias Wirtz died while fighting a fire the morning after Christmas.  

Leaders told News 8 that Wirtz and DeSimone were best friends. DeSimone served as the fire department’s liaison to the Wirtz family and helped organize fundraisers to support the family. 

“I wish I could say it will get easier from here, but we all know it’s not,” Januszewski said. “It’s going to be a rough road for a little while. Two losses in this short period of time has tested our will, crushed our spirits, but it will make us stronger.”  

Januszewski vowed that the North Haven Fire Department will use its strong spirit to support Pam, DeSimone’s wife of 20 years, and their two children. 

“[The department will] see to it that Pam never has another need that she can’t have fulfilled,” Januszewski said. “[The department will] see to it that the children are taken care of. While nobody can replace the presence of your father, you just got 40 or 50 fathers. They’re going to watch over you.” 

Leaders said DeSimone was devoted to his family and community. He volunteered at the Elks Lodge, with youth baseball and with the Knights of Columbus. 

He was also an advocate for firefighters by traveling to the state capitol in Hartford. He pushed to pass legislation — including a new law announced Wednesday by Gov. Ned Lamont – making it easier for firefighters who develop cancer to receive benefits. The law goes into effect on Oct. 1.