Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Hundreds Turn Out for Firefighters Calling Hours

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Rochester: Hundreds Turn Out for Firefighters Calling Hours
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Hundreds of firefighters from around the country attended Saturday's calling hours at Webster Schroeder High School for two firefighters killed in the ambush on Lake Road in Webster on Christmas Eve.

To many in the Webster community, past fire Chief Mike Chiapperini was a long-time friend; and Tomasz Kaczowka, a young man, anxious to learn about the department. Fellow firefighters traveled great distances to pay their respects as volunteers found ways to bring them some comfort.

"This hits so close to home, ya know, how do you not come up," said Chief John McDonald from Washington DC.

McDonald made a ten-hour drive from Washington D.C. to thank his brother firefighters for their service. With him, hundreds more braved the cold and snow Saturday, waiting in line for hours, to pay their respects to past fire chief Mike Chiapperini and firefighter Tomasz Kaczwoka.

"It's so different than a normal line of duty death," said McDonald. "This is murder, and it's just unbelievable, a proven fact by this tragic incident that there's angels among us."

Many said proof of those angels came in a surprise visit from Joe Hofstetter and Ted Scardino, the two firefighters injured in the shooting. Both arrived by ambulance and had a chance to say goodbye to the men who worked alongside them.

"They had some televised things along the way showing you who you were coming to visit, some childhood photos, family photos, their training," he said.

The line of people attending the viewing wrapped around the high school building.

"Once you got up to where the gentleman were laid out, you could just feel it in the air," he said. "Both gentleman beside each other laid to rest with some of their memorabilia."

Throughout the week, members of the community looked for ways to help, donating food and hotel rooms.

"I called to get a hotel room and I can't even pay for it, you can't pay for a meal in town, its unbelievable the way the nation has pulled together for these two men," said McDonald.

And on a cold snowy day, volunteers showed up with a small tent and handed out coffee, pizza, and hand warmers, thanks to donations received from local businesses.

Firefighters say this tragedy has changed their perception.

"We definitely look at calls differently, but the way that it happened there's not much more you can do different but we are more aware," said Captain William Hall Jr. from Oswego County.

Firefighters from different cities were greeted by Rochester residents, thanking them for their selfless service.

"The community has really pulled together. It's amazing to me from being out of town," said McDonald.

YNN will televise live Chiapperini's funeral Sunday at noon and Kaczowka at St. Stanislaus Church Monday morning at can watch on your TV or online at
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