Family and friends paid respects today to a 59-year-old New Britain deputy fire chief who died in the line of duty.
Dave Fiori, deputy fire chief at the New Britain Fire Department, passed away at the Hospital of Central Connecticut early on the morning of Memorial Day after experiencing a medical emergency in his office at FIre Station #1 on Beaver Street, according to fire officials.
He was a 36-year veteran of the department and served as lieutenant, captain, deputy chief and acting assistant chief.
“He was the kind of guy that wanted to see everybody develop to their fullest potential,” Capt. James McLoughlin, of the Hartford Fire Department, said. “He was the kind of guy who just wanted to be in the firehouse with the guys and passing on the knowledge that he had.”
In addition to his work as a firefighter, Fiori previously served as a U.S. Marine, according to the fire department.
Funeral services began at 10 a.m. on Friday at St. Maurice Church at 100 Wightman Road in New Britain. Shuttles were provided from there to the church, cemetery and reception afterward at the local VFW.
NBC Connecticut received reports that Fiori suffered a heart attack, but New Britain Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter said the cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
A firefighter who worked with Fiori said members on duty at the time "heard a loud noise in [Fiori's] office" and rushed to find him in apparent cardiac arrest. Firefighters came to his assistance but efforts to save him were ultimately unsuccessful.
Fiori died at the hospital around 3:30 a.m. Monday, according to a press release from the fire department.
"The loss of Deputy Chief Fiori is a tremendous loss for our members and department," Ronalter said in a statement. "Deputy Chief Fiori was, and is, held in the highest regard by the members of this Department. His passing creates a void in our Department that will be felt for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Fiori's family."
Firefighters echoed Ronalter's words.
"The void he leaves in the department is massive," said a fireman in the department, who asked not to be publicly identified. "He was such a great leader and mentor."
Ronalter said Fiori was 59 years old and physically fit. His death came as a shock to the department.
"The entire City of New Britain mourns the loss of a dedicated public servant and dear friend, Deputy Chief Fiori," New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said in a statement Monday. "Our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt prayers are with the entire Fiori family at this time."
Fire department leadership has been in touch with the family.