NORTH HAVEN – Longtime North Haven firefighter Matthias “Matt” Wirtz Jr. was among the fallen firefighters remembered during a May 7 ceremony held at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The 144 fallen firefighters on the 2023 Roll of Honor – 79 of whom died in 2022 and 65 in previous years – were memorialized by having their names added to a bronze plaque that was unveiled during the ceremony, and which will become a permanent part of the federal park.
Wirtz, 46, died in the line of duty on Dec. 26, 2022. He was a 22-year veteran of the North Haven Fire Department.
“He was everybody’s friend. He was a great person. He was a great family man,” North Haven Fire Chief Paul Januszewski said of Wirtz soon after his death. “He would do anything for anybody.”
Months before Wirtz’s death, on July 8, 2022, another Connecticut firefighter, Chief William “Bill” Halstead Sr. of the Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue Company, died in the line of duty.
On Friday, May 5, Gov. Ned Lamont directed U.S. and state flags in Connecticut lowered to half-staff in recognition of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Maryland.
“Those who have the courage to serve their communities as firefighters must be honored for their selfless sense of protection of our neighborhoods and the people who live in them,” Lamont said in a statement. “They are heroes, and they put themselves in harm’s way out of a fearless sense of duty to protect the lives of people they may not even know. I am thankful for all of the firefighters who serve in Connecticut, and I encourage everyone in our state to reflect upon those who have given their lives in the line of duty.”