Daniel Pujdak loved life and his job. That’s how grieving family and friends are remembering the Brooklyn-born firefighter who died Thursday after falling four stories to his death.
A native of Greenpoint, Pujdak, 23, had lived for the last year on 186th Lane in Fresh Meadows, near where he went to high school at St. Francis Prep.
At his wake over the weekend in a Brooklyn funeral home, friends recalled Pujdak as a big Yankees fan, who loved to climb mountains and ski. In high school, he was a pitcher on Prep’s baseball team. All said he loved being a firefighter and had encouraged his younger brother, Matthew, to join.
The young firefighter had served with Ladder 146 in Williamsburg for almost two years. According to witnesses, Pujdak lost his balance while trying to ventilate the roof of a four-story building.
According to the FDNY, an unattended cigarette left on the window sill of a fourth floor apartment was the cause of the blaze, but it caused only minor damage.
Pujdak suffered severe head injuries and cardiac arrest when he fell 60 feet to the ground. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan where he died. This is the first line of duty death for the FDNY this year.
Pujdak was a graduate of SUNY Cortland and joined the FDNY shortly after in 2005. In his spare time, he was a personal trainer at the Greenpoint YMCA and was training to participate in a triathlon.
Besides his brother Matthew, he is survived by his parents, Leo and Christina; and another brother, David. The father teaches religion at St. Francis Prep.
The funeral mass was celebrated on Tuesday morning at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Brooklyn.