A wake was held on Wednesday at Christopher T Jordan Funeral Home in Island Park for firefighter Michael Fischer, who died Sunday of an apparent heart attack. Credit: John Roca

Under a giant American flag suspended high by two ladder trucks in Island Park Wednesday, a stream of mourners including volunteer firefighters in dress blues filed into a funeral home for Michael Fischer's wake.

Fischer, 38, served nearly a decade as an Island Park volunteer firefighter before dying of an apparent heart attack Sunday afternoon at a fundraiser following a morning department training exercise. He was the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in the department's 98-year history.

"He loved his community and he wasn't afraid of fighting fires," Fischer's sister, Allison George, of Pelham, told Newsday in a small office inside Christopher T. Jordan Funeral Home.

She remembered a man who proudly showed off pictures of new fire apparatus and who leavened the sometimes grim work of rescue with lighter duties. He enjoyed fundraising for the department and cherished the days around Christmas when Island Park firefighters escort Santa Claus through town. On those days, she said, "he dressed up as an elf."

Fischer, who was born and raised in Island Park, had participated in a Sunday morning training exercise and then rode on a company engine to Peter's Clam Bar on Long Beach Road, where firefighters were holding their annual clam-eating contest, this year to raise money for an infant with a rare form of cancer. He suffered an apparent heart attack during the event and his fire department colleagues and police medics worked about 25 minutes attempting to revive him but were unable to regain a pulse.

Fischer worked for the Nassau County Department of Public Works. He was a third-generation firefighter who grew up hearing stories about the service from an uncle and grandfather who also served, his sister said.

Former Island Park Fire Chief Anthony D'Esposito said Fischer would be promoted posthumously to honorary chief.

He had a version of his grandfather's Island Park Fire Department badge tattooed on his calf and competed in junior firefighting tournaments before joining the department himself, Fischer's sister said.

Outside the funeral home, fellow firefighter William Whaley, 38, a union construction worker, said he and "Fish," as Fischer was known at the firehouse, had answered hundreds of calls together, some of them hair-raising: "water rescues, fires, car accidents."

The memory he wanted to talk about was happier. It was six years ago, when Whaley's daughter Callie was born. Fischer was one of the first visitors Whaley and his wife, Tara had in a joyful but stressful time.

"It meant a lot," Whaley said. "He held the baby … He was more like family than anything else."

Under a giant American flag suspended high by two ladder trucks in Island Park Wednesday, a stream of mourners including volunteer firefighters in dress blues filed into a funeral home for Michael Fischer's wake.

Fischer, 38, served nearly a decade as an Island Park volunteer firefighter before dying of an apparent heart attack Sunday afternoon at a fundraiser following a morning department training exercise. He was the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in the department's 98-year history.

"He loved his community and he wasn't afraid of fighting fires," Fischer's sister, Allison George, of Pelham, told Newsday in a small office inside Christopher T. Jordan Funeral Home.

Island Park firefighter Michael Fischer, 38, died Sunday of an...

Island Park firefighter Michael Fischer, 38, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack. Credit: Island Park Fire Department

She remembered a man who proudly showed off pictures of new fire apparatus and who leavened the sometimes grim work of rescue with lighter duties. He enjoyed fundraising for the department and cherished the days around Christmas when Island Park firefighters escort Santa Claus through town. On those days, she said, "he dressed up as an elf."

Fischer, who was born and raised in Island Park, had participated in a Sunday morning training exercise and then rode on a company engine to Peter's Clam Bar on Long Beach Road, where firefighters were holding their annual clam-eating contest, this year to raise money for an infant with a rare form of cancer. He suffered an apparent heart attack during the event and his fire department colleagues and police medics worked about 25 minutes attempting to revive him but were unable to regain a pulse.

Fischer worked for the Nassau County Department of Public Works. He was a third-generation firefighter who grew up hearing stories about the service from an uncle and grandfather who also served, his sister said.

Former Island Park Fire Chief Anthony D'Esposito said Fischer would be promoted posthumously to honorary chief.

He had a version of his grandfather's Island Park Fire Department badge tattooed on his calf and competed in junior firefighting tournaments before joining the department himself, Fischer's sister said.

Outside the funeral home, fellow firefighter William Whaley, 38, a union construction worker, said he and "Fish," as Fischer was known at the firehouse, had answered hundreds of calls together, some of them hair-raising: "water rescues, fires, car accidents."

The memory he wanted to talk about was happier. It was six years ago, when Whaley's daughter Callie was born. Fischer was one of the first visitors Whaley and his wife, Tara had in a joyful but stressful time.

"It meant a lot," Whaley said. "He held the baby … He was more like family than anything else."

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