Fallen firefighters honored at Last Alarm Memorial - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Fallen firefighters honored at Last Alarm Memorial

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Toledo's fire chief joined with thousands of others to say thank you and farewell to two Toledo firefighters killed in the line of duty last weekend.

During a somber "Last Alarm" ceremony, Chief Santiago paid tribute to Stephan A. Machcinski and James A. Dickman.  He said they came from "great families" who were worried about the fire department even as they experienced their own devastating loss. 

The ceremony at Seagate Convention Centre was full of community members, local fire fighters, public officials, union representatives from fire and law enforcement agencies from California to Canada.

Family members of Mr. Machcinski and Mr. Dickman were presented with the International Association of Fire Fighters Medal of Honor.  Private Machcinski joined the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department in 1998.  Private Dickman was appointed to the Department in September of last year.  They were killed in a structure fire on Sunday which remains under investigation.

Chief Santiago summed up the feeling with these simple words:  "It hurts.  We're all hurting.  In a lot of different ways and a lot of different reasons."  He said he was overwhelmed by the community support and continued "I couldn't be more proud of your performance.  Toledo has one of the finest fire departments in the country.  Thank you so much for what all of you do."   At the start of his remarks, the fire chief stood silently for some time as he composed himself.  "When they say Toledo strong, that's no lie.  That's real."

The emotion of the evening was punctuated with tributes of honor and respect.  Bagpipes were played, the St. Francis de Sales High School Men's Chorus performed and words of comfort were spoken throughout the two-hour ceremony.  Two caskets draped with American flags were flanked by two Toledo Fire Department engines.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur presented family members with U.S. flags.  In his remarks, Senator Brown said to the audience that "it is all of us who are in your debt.  While we as civilians run away from danger, firefighters rush in towards that danger.  And they run towards each other and fellow fire fighters in times of need."  Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins appeared to be choked with emotion.  The mayor is a former police officer.

A bell rang three times for each of the late fire fighters.  Badge numbers for Mr. Machcinski and Mr. Dickman were retired.  At the conclusion of the "Last Alarm" service, dispatched the final call which was heard inside the auditorium and on Toledo Fire Department radios throughout the city. 

Even as thousands attended the service, thousands more watched it live on local television and on line.  One person said they thought it was a "great tribute to the fallen fire fighters." 

Even as the service was concluding, firefighters from other departments filling in at Toledo stations during the service responded to a structure fire on Collingwood.  Thick black smoke poured from the structure but this time there were no reports of injuries.  The fire call served as a stark reminder that there is no break for those who protect the public.  

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