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Daniel Pujdak '01: FDNY Hero Killed In Tragic Accident

Friday, June 22, 2007  
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FDNY Hero Killed In Tragic Accident

Daniel Pujdak (St. Francis Prep Class of 2001)

Tumbled Four Stories While While Battling Brooklyn Blaze

Magee Hickey
(CBS) BROOKLYN In one moment, a young New York City firefighter was battling an all-hands blaze at a Brooklyn building; in the next, he was lying lifeless on the ground after falling four stories from a ladder.

Daniel Pujdak, who had been with the fire department for only two years, was killed in the fall, which is being called a "tragic accident."

Flags at Ladder Company 146 are flying at half-staff Friday as funeral arrangements are being made for the young firefighter.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta said everything he was supposed to be doing.

The "all hands" fire was being fought by 60 firefighters from 12 units. No one else was injured in the blaze.

Pujdak, 23, grew up in Greenpoint, less than two miles from the artist's loft on the edge of Williamsburg where he lost his life.

He and his younger brother had always dreamed of being firefighters. At Ladder 146, one fire chief said Daniel was a young, aggressive firefighter whom everyone thought was going to be a leader on the job.

He lost that chance Thursday after he slipped from a ladder and plunged four stories while battling a blaze.

"You couldn't really tell where he fell from, all you know is like in mid-action. When I looked up, he was coming down and hit the ground," said witness Marlene McAllister.

Pajdak was the "roof firefighter" loaded down with more than 100 pounds of gear including a heavy power saw. He was moving toward the ladder when he fell more than 60 feet from the stairwell bulkhead on top of the roof.

"It appears that he slipped as he was climbing down from the bulkhead," Scopetta said. It was a "tragic accident."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg identified the cause of the blaze. "The fire was caused by an un-extinguished cigarette left near the window," he said.

Pujdak, an aspiring triathlete, was the middle of three sons. Both of his parents are schoolteachers. The mayor met his parents at Bellevue Hospital and said that they are just devastated by the loss of their son.

His younger brother said that he is still planning to join the FDNY.

The ladder truck returned to its Brooklyn firehouse short one man. Pujdak was a firefighter for just two years. He was considered to be the "kid of the house," and now his name will be added to the wall as of the FDNY's Eternal Heroes.

This is the first line of duty death since Firefighter Michael C. Reilly of Engine Company 75 and Lieutenant Howard J. Carpluk Jr. of Engine Company 42 died while battling a third-alarm fire in the South Bronx on August 27, 2006.

Pujdak is the 1,135th member of the FDNY to be killed in the department's 143-year history.
Addendum to story: The Daniel F. Pujdak '01 Memorial Scholarship Fund has now been established at the Prep, and this fall's Homecoming Golf Outing will be dedicated to Danny's memory, with the proceeds supporting the scholarship fund and the SFP Baseball Program which Danny loved while he was a student here. May he rest in peace!