New Trenton firefighter wears her dad's badge

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New Trenton firefighter wears her dad's badge. Nora Muchanic reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on April 12. (WPVI)

The torch has officially been passed onto a Trenton firefighter who is now wearing her father's badge.

For newly minted Trenton Firefighter Natasha Rivera taking the oath of office was a poignant moment not lost on the crowd at City Hall. Natasha is the daughter of the late Manny Rivera, a city firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2009.

She said, "I know he's with me. I'm very honored, ecstatic. Oh my God I'm lost for words right now, you're gonna make me cry."

Natasha is one of five children. She was 17 when her father died. Manny Rivera collapsed at the scene of a fire on Washington Street soon after helping to rescue a man from a burning house. He died several weeks later.

Rivera's death was devastating to Natasha, who grew up wanting to be a firefighter just like her dad. But it didn't stop her from realizing her dream.

Natasha said, "Through hard work and oh my God stress, the level was absolutely high, but I never gave up."

John Snee, Manny Rivera's classmate said, "It's emotional. That girl's got a lot of courage. A lot of courage. I give her a lot of credit. I told Natasha your dad's looking down, he's proud of you today."

Natasha's Mother Ivette Santiago said, "At first when she came to me I was a little bit afraid for her, but she took it, she showed her little spunk and stuff like she always does and I got faith in her."

Manny Rivera's badge number 321 was retired after his death, but the fire department made an exception and now his daughter will wear that badge too.

Natasha said, "321 for life. Manuel Rivera's way. Remember that!"

Dalisa Rivera, Manny's widow said, "He would have loved it because at least one of them made it. And she's doing his dream, he always wanted his kids to be firefighters."

So firefighter Natasha Rivera now carries her dad's badge and his legacy of protecting people and saving lives

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