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NAPLES | Celebrating the Life of Retired Lieutenant who Lost Battle with Mental Health

Posted at 8:55 PM, Sep 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-29 22:22:14-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Family, friends and colleagues came out in numbers Friday to the First Baptist Church in Naples to honor the life of Cory Fahrenbruch, a retired lieutenant who dedicated 22 years of his life as a firefighter/paramedic for the North Collier Fire & Rescue Department.

Fire Chief Eloy Ricardo gave a speech at the ceremony and spoke about the mark Fahrenbruch’s love for firefighting has left on the station and community.

“Every home he helped; every life he touched…he will never be forgotten.” said Ricardo.

Even after his retirement, Fahrenbruch remained devoted to the fire station, appearing at all the events, helping with their social media, and making visits to provide mentorship.

“He had the unique ability to make everyone around him better. Cory was not just a colleague…he was a mentor, a friend, a brother,” said Ricardo.

However, Ricardo spoke about how the lieutenant was open about his struggles with mental health, and sadly, earlier this month, he lost his battle.

“Mental health is as crucial as physical health, and it’s okay to seek help. In fact, it’s a necessity,” Ricardo admitted.

Heather Mazurkiewicz, also from North Collier Fire & Rescue, echoed these sentiments, recognizing the challenging job first responders have.

“Think about it…fire fighters, EMS, police officers…what they see on a daily basis," expressed Mazurkiewicz.

Heather praised Cory's family for their willingness to allow discussion about the circumstances of his passing, saying “They are as brave as they come for allowing us to have these conversations. To be very open about the fact that Cory died as a result of suicide. So, the fact that they’re allowing us to have these conversations is going to have a ripple effect in the profession.”

As the ceremony finished, a bagpiper played as the men and women in uniform lined up outside the church to see Fahrenbruch’s family out - at attention for a last salute in his honor.

As suicide prevention month comes to a close, Fire Chief Ricardo says that it’s important to remember that it’s a strength to know your weaknesses, and to know that help is always at hand for anyone struggling with their mental health.