Firefighters from California to Florida honor fallen brothers in - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Firefighters from California to Florida honor fallen brothers in Toledo

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Toledo, OH - Firefighters from all across the country and even Canada made the journey to Toledo on Thursday to honor their fallen brothers.

The solemn show of solidarity was awe-inspiring.

We met firefighters from California, Miami, Chicago, and Toronto, to name a few.

They say they don't know each other personally, but they're all family.

Thousands of firefighters, some from thousands of miles away, descend on Toledo's Seagate Convention Centre to pay tribute to Private Stephan Machcinski and Private James Dickman.  Machcinski and Dickman died while battling an apartment fire last Sunday in North Toledo.

"I feel honored and privileged to be able to be here for our brothers and for their families," says Lt. Mike Elston, a firefighter from Roanoke, Virginia. "We're here to honor them."

"They'd do it for me. It's an honor to be here," says Scott Thomas, a firefighter from Dublin, Ohio.

"When our firefighters get injured or killed in the line of duty or even off duty, we all feel it," says Kem Murray, a firefighter from Orange County, California.

Murray is a member of the Honor Guard which practiced inside the Park Inn before the ceremony.

The patches on their uniforms and names on their drums may be different, but they're all brothers and sisters.

"It's hard to explain, but these guys do what we do. They work in a different city. Weather conditions are certainly different than Southern California here. They wonder about our wildfires. We wonder about their ice and snow," says Murray. "We know the risks we take, we know the boredom, we know the jokes, we know our families."

"We want to show our support and respect and give our condolences to the families," says Angelo Gertsakis, a firefighter from Windsor, Ontario.

Gertsakis and 40 fellow firefighters took a bus down from Canada, packing into the crowded lobby of the Seagate Centre before the doors even opened for the ceremony.  They helped shine a light of hope and strength on a dark day in Toledo history.

"They're all family. Once you become a firefighter, you become a brother. We all feel for them. We all know what could happen to our families when we go into a structure. It hits home pretty hard. We've all got families, we've all got kids," says Gertsakis. "We don't want to leave the families alone in this time of need and it's a nice way to start the healing process as well. Even though we don't know each other, we're always there for each other."

Stephen Machcinski's brother is a firefighter in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

He was in the front row with his family.

Behind him, in the seats of the Seagate Centre on Thursday, sat his support system: dozens of his fellow firefighters from the Fort Wayne Fire Department who made the special trip.

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