Albany firefighter and Slingerlands resident Theodore Abriel died in the line of duty late Monday afternoon, Feb. 19, after going on his second fire call of the day. He collapsed inside the hallway of a burning apartment high-rise at 2 Lincoln Square in Albany.
The unit on fire was empty, but 44-year-old Abriel, a member of Engine Company Two located in Arbor Hill, did not know that when he walked up all six floors of the building wearing heavy equipment as part of the department's rescue squad to look for anyone inside. Abriel is the 48th Albany firefighter to lose his life in the line of duty.
Our entire city grieves today as we have lost one of our bravest, said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. "He was one of our most dedicated public servants whose passion for firefighting and the Albany Fire Department was unrivaled."
The official cause of death is listed as a massive heart attack. Rescue workers at the scene tried to revive Abriel by performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation before quickly getting him to the hospital. The fire was under control several minutes before Abriel was pronounced dead at Albany Medical Center.
The fire was ruled accidental by investigators a few days later. Fire Chief Robert C. Forezzi Sr. said investigators believe the blaze was electrical in nature.
Abriel served for 20 years as a member of the Albany Fire Department and other generations of his family have been firemen since the late 1800s, including two brothers, his father and grandfather. He was an acting lieutenant of the rescue squad at the time of his death.
Abriel's wake, which was public, was held at the Palace Theatre in Albany on Friday, Feb. 23, and was attended by hundreds of mourners, including fire fighters from several Albany County fire departments and other area departments. His funeral was held the next day in Loudonville at St. Pius X Church.