Tolentino had been a PFD firefighter since December 2018 and was originally hired to be a full-time emergency medical technician; he continued to serve in that role on some shifts. He also volunteered for the community emergency response team.
He leaves behind a wife and two children.
PFD Chief Patrick Trentacost stated that he considers Tolentino’s death a line-of-duty death.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, on March 14, 2020, Firefighter/EMT Israel Tolentino, Jr., responded with his fire department to an ongoing gas rupture at a residence. All members, including Firefighter/EMT Tolentino, entered the surrounding structures, including multi-family dwellings and apartments, to check for gas seepage and levels. Three of the residences he entered had individuals with known cases of COVID-19. Firefighter/EMT Tolentino subsequently became ill, was diagnosed with COVID-19, and passed away on March 31, 2020. He had two years of service.
In nearby New York City, two retired firefighters have thus far succumbed to the coronavirus, and the Fire Department of New York announced that James Villecco, an FDNY mechanic, also passed away from complications related to the virus.