Firefighter Matthias “Matt” Wirtz Jr., 46, of North Haven, Connecticut, lost his life while battling a fire at a multi-family home. Although he was already hurting, he did not leave his operator position at the engine, knowing that his firefighter brothers were inside the house searching for residents. Matt collapsed at the scene and died from a major heart attack; his last alarm was December 26, 2022.
Matt was born to Matthias and Erika Wirtz of North Haven on August 25, 1976. After graduating from Notre Dame High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Haven.
Matt was a decorated firefighter. He joined the North Haven Fire Department as a volunteer fireman in 1996. In 2000, he moved on and began his professional career. Over the 22 years, he served the department in different positions, including EMT and most recently as driver and operator of Engine 9. In addition, Matt supported the local units in New York after the 9/11 attacks. He taught the fire program at Gateway Community College to pass down his knowledge and experience to future firefighters.
Besides his passion as a firefighter, Matt worked as a security guard at Hopkins School in New Haven and served the community as a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. He was a member of the New Haven County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, as well as the Meriden Turner German Society.
Matt loved sports. The Boston Red Sox and Bruins, the Washington Commanders, and especially the German soccer club 1. FC Koln were his favorite teams.
But most of all, he loved his family and being there for them. Spending time with his wife Barbara and her children was so important for him. Always operating in the background, he was the rock of the family.
Matt is survived by his wife, Barbara; his mother, Erika; Barbara’s children, Ray and Alex (husband Chris); and his sisters, Helga and Monika. He is also dearly missed by his firefighter brothers, as well as many other relatives, friends and especially his faithful companion, his dog Rosie. Matt was predeceased by his father, Matthias Sr., and his brother, Peter.
Matt’s presence inside and outside the firehouse, the North Haven community, and our hearts is irreplaceable! Thank you, Matt, for everything you did. You will never be forgotten.