Fallen firefighter's brother joins FDNY

January 16, 2008 3:41:36 PM PST
The brother of a firefighter killed when he fell off a roof while battling an apartment blaze has finished training to follow his brother into the Fire Department."I'm doing it for me and him," Matthew Pujdak, 22, told the Daily News as he prepared to graduate from the Fire Academy on Wednesday, less than seven months after the death of his elder brother, Daniel. "I think (his death) pushed me harder, probably."

Daniel Pujdak was 23 when he fell more than 60 feet to his death on June 21. He apparently slipped while preparing to cut a hole in a Brooklyn building's roof to vent smoke from a small fire.

He had already inspired his brother to apply for the 23-week Fire Academy and given him a spare oxygen mask to use in training.

"It must have been hard for him, but he handled it great," the academy's Lt. Jimmy Brennan said of the younger brother.

Matthew Pujdak, who has been assigned to Engine 50 in the Bronx, was graduating alongside two classmates whose firefighter fathers were killed while on duty.

Robert Wallace Jr. is the son of a fire lieutenant killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Lt. Robert Wallace Sr. signed him up for the FDNY entry test, "so I know it's something he wanted me to do," said the son, 25.

Scott LaPiedra's father, Capt. Scott LaPiedra, died while searching a burning Brooklyn building for a woman who was thought to be trapped on July 4, 1998. His son, 22, said he had been interested in joining the department since he spent time in his father's firehouse as a child.