Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Firefighters Stand Tall to Support Their Fallen Brothers

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In the wake of the Webster tragedy, firefighters from around the nation are heading to the Rochester area this weekend to pay their respects. Here locally, more than 200 volunteer firefighters from Erie County traveled to the wakes of both firefighters.

YNN's Kate McGowan captured their emotions as they prepared to leave.


CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- The unthinkable events that unfolded on Christmas Eve morning in the small community of Webster hits home for firefighters, everywhere.

"Words can't even explain because this could be any one of us," said volunteer firefighter, Alan Wieberg.

Two firefighters were shot and killed, and two firefighters injured.

As the Webster community prepares to lay the slain men to rest, hundreds of firefighters across the nation are coming together to stand beside their fallen brothers.

"It really means something to be able to support them, their family, their fellow firefighters during this time because it's something we would need," expressed Wieberg.

Fire companies from across Erie County gathered together early Saturday to travel to Webster for the wake of Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

Deputy Fire Coordinator, Tiger Schmittendorf said, "Very generously, the '100 Club of Buffalo' stepped forward and offered to pay for the buses that will transport more than 200 firefighters to the Rochester area."

"It's a difficult time and I think when we get together, we form strength and bonds together," said William Blarr from the Marilla Fire Company.

Though the men and women here can't take away the pain the families and many others are feeling, they said the least they can do is show their compassion and respect for the heroes who gave it all.

"They definitely were heroes," Wieberg expressed.

On a snowy and cold December day, these firefighters had one thing on their mind as they boarded the buses.

"This is how we take care of each other," Schmittendorf explained.

Blarr said, "We'll get there and make our presence known."

Other fire companies from across Western New York will head to Webster both on Sunday and Monday to attend the funerals for both men who lost their lives.

Though it's a difficult time, many we spoke with said offering that support in this time of need is all a part of the brotherhood that exists between firefighters.

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