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Fallen New Haven firefighter died a hero


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    NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (WFSB) — The city of New Haven is remembering a hero.

Ricardo Torres Jr., a firefighter who lost his life while battling a fire early Wednesday morning, always wanted to be a firefighter, according to those who knew him.

“Today, we lost one of our own Ricardo Torres who was doing the job he always dreamed of doing,” said Patrick Cannon, IAFF Local 825.

An emotional news conference on Wednesday afternoon began with a prayer. Hours earlier, the firehouse fought alongside Torres. They later hung a bunting in his memory.

To the world, he was Ricardo Torres, but he went by “Rico” in his inner circle.

The firefighter was just shy of reaching two years with the department.

The grief filled the garage at the fire department’s headquarters on Wednesday, as people comforted each other.

The loss was not quite comprehended as some spoke of Torres in the present tense.

“Firefighter Torres is a son, he’s a brother, he’s a husband, he’s a father and he’s a hero,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

That hero left behind a young family, and was expecting another child.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Torres’ wife said her husband was very passionate about his job, and would help anyone and everyone who needed him.

“He was the best, most hands on father to our son Oliver [and] was so excited to welcome our second son this summer. I am devastated. My heart is broken and I will miss him tremendously. I am so grateful for our memories, the family we have found in the New Haven Fire Department and most importantly my son Oliver and [coming soon] Crew,” she went on to say.

“Ricardo, from when he was a baby, wanted to be a firefighter. The kid did last night what we do in every day, and every day we sign up to risk our lives,” said Dan DelPrete, IAFF Local 825.

As the fire department reflected on Torres’ ultimate sacrifice, the fire chief said Wednesday afternoon “I read somewhere ‘No greater love hath that man or woman that they laid down their life for a friend.’”

Those of faith who have loved ones working as first responders may be familiar with that Bible verse.

Rick Fontana, Director of Emergency Operations in New Haven, was also Torres’ youth hockey coach 19 years ago.

Torres led his West Haven Youth Hockey Team to a championship and Fontana knew his destiny was in public service.

“He was on one of the championship teams and myself and other coaches were firefighters and he wanted to be a firefighter and talked about it and he was a strong young man at such a young age,” Fontana said.

As many are asking how they can support Torres’ family and the New Haven Fire Department, many of his peers asked for kind thoughts or prayers.

The New Haven fire union said it plans to set up scholarship funds for Torres’ children.

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