NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Police and fire departments across the state are paying their respects to a North Haven firefighter killed in the line of duty.
Matthias Wirtz, 46, is being remembered after officials say he died Monday from injuries sustained while battling a fire in North Haven.
“He was everybody’s friend,” said Chief Paul Januszewski, North Haven Fire Department. “He was a great family man. He would do anything for anybody.”
Leaders say Wirtz started his 22-year career as a volunteer firefighter in 1996 and was a decorated department member. A Notre Dame High School graduate in West Haven, Wirtz was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the New Haven County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.
Ban members say firefighters are family, but this loss hits closer to home.
“Anytime we lose a brother or sister in the fire service it hurts,” said Mike Torino, New Haven County Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. “It hurts more when it’s one of your own.”
Wirtz served two decades in the band and was known as “Matty.”
“Matty was a quiet person until you got to know him and then he was larger than life,” Torino said.
He’s known as a good person with a big heart and the heartbeat of the band as a snare drummer.
“He keeps our beat up for us and keeps us going in step,” said David Gade.
Band members say Wirtz will continue to lead the team.