A city firefighter was found dead in a Bronx FDNY station house after suffering heart failure last week.
Gary Valentino, 40, of Warwick, NY, died in the East Tremont station house where he had temporarily worked as a chief’s aid in he 7th Division in Engine 72. His body was found unconscious on his bunk on Friday, November 26. He would have turned 41 on Saturday, November 27.
“He was a great firefighter, and a great family man,” saidMichael O’Rourke, a firefighter in Engine 72. “He had a great smile and a laugh that you’ll never forget. He was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to work with”
Valentino was assigned to Engine 43 in Morris Heights, but was temporarily working out of the Throggs Neck house as the facility is being renovated. He commuted regularly for the 24-hour shifts from his home about 70 miles away.
For more than a dozen years Valentino served as a firefighter in the Bronx. As a chief’s aid with the 7th Division, it was his duty to make sure all companies are staffed with the correct number of firefighters every day. The division overseas 47 companies, including engines, trucks and battalions in the west Bronx and upper Manhattan.
Officers at the 7th Division said it will likely be weeks before anyone will be able to step into Valentino’s shoes as a full-time chief’s aid. In the meantime the position will be temporarily filled.
Initial reports about Valentino’s death stated that he complained that he was not feeling well when he went to bed. Firefighters found him unresponsive Saturday morning.
At first the death was considered suspicious and the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office was called in to investigate the cause of death. The office ruled that Valentino had died of natural causes.
A spokesperson with the office said hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – which is an overgrown heart muscle – led to his heart failing.
Valentino is survived by his son and ex-wife. His son turned 11 on Monday, November 29.
“He was going to be with his son this weekend and they were gong to have a dual celebration, which obviously is not going to happen now,” O’Rourke said. “It’s such a total shock to ever body because he was so young. It’s just such a shock.”