Colleagues remember Albany firefighter who died suddenly Saturday
Flags across the City of Albany remained at half-staff Thursday as the community mourned a firefighter who died after a cardiac event while off duty Saturday. Edward Verhoff, or Eddie, as friends called him, was just two weeks shy of his 46th birthday when he died Saturday.
He also served as vice president of the Albany Permanent Professional Firefighters’ Union. The union told NewsChannel 13 his death was being investigated as work-related, as he had worked beforehand.
Black and purple bunting draped the door of the union headquarters in Albany Thursday. The building where Verhoff was a constant presence has become a meeting space for his colleagues to mourn in the days since his passing.
Union President Robert Mengel said Verhoff valued his family above all, leaving behind his wife Kim and two young sons. Mengel said he dedicated himself to the fire service.
“We’ve worked in the firehouse together for all of his 16 years. He was always an aggressive firefighter on the job, he worked in our heavy rescue unit, which goes to every fire in the city,” Mengel said.
He was funny, but firefighters told NewsChannel 13 he had a way of making people feel special.
“Stories about Ed in the firehouse, some of them I can’t repeat,” Mengel said with a laugh. “When he talked to you, he made you feel like you were the center and he was 100% involved in what was going on with you.”
His colleagues say there’s an outpouring of support from firefighters around the country who he touched with his work advocating for them.
“The level of support is overwhelming, and it speaks to who Ed was as a person. He touched people in ways you can’t explain. Right to their hearts,” Mengel said.
Verhoff was a passionate advocate for the mental wellbeing of his fellow firefighters, working to make sure their mental health was taken seriously.
“Ed’s concern for the wellbeing of the Albany firefighters, both their physical and mental health, he was a pioneer and on the forefront of that, leading that charge, trying to lead that charge, across the country,” he said.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan called Verhoff “the consummate public servant” in a tribute post on social media. He was heavily involved in local politics, from his neighborhood in the 14th Ward to the larger area.
“He would help anyone under the sun who would ask him for help—he helped organize campaigns, run campaigns, he would go door to door for anyone. He was beloved in the 14th ward and across the city and across the county,” Mengel said.
There is a MealTrain to provide food for the family and a GoFundMe to help ease the financial burden during this time and set up a college fund for his sons.
A public funeral is scheduled for Friday morning at 11:00 am at the Parish of Mater Christi at 40 Hopewell Street in Albany.