Fallen firefighters remembered at memorial mass

A memorial honoring the Toledo Fire Department inside the Historic Church of St. Patrick.
A memorial honoring the Toledo Fire Department inside the Historic Church of St. Patrick.

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - A memorial mass for two firefighters killed in the line of duty on Sunday was held Wednesday at the Historic Church of St. Patrick in Toledo Wednesday.

Stephen Machcinski, 42, and James Dickman, 31 were killed fighting a fire on Magnolia Street in north Toledo Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters from Toledo and many other area departments attended the mass.

The mass included prayers at a special altar dedicated to the firefighters, and a homily from the priest, honoring their sacrifice.

"None of us ever wanted, I think, to have a celebration like this, but it's good that we begin this almost week-long celebration of two very valiant lives in prayer," said Monsegur Chris Vasko at the mass.

Those in attendance said they felt they needed to be there.

"I'm a third-generation fireman and it's family," said Heather Bacon, from the Washington Township Fire Department. "I'm just trying to show my brothers the support that they deserve, and their families."

John Botwin came all the way from the District of Columbia Fire Department.

"It's something we do," he said. "We have a responsibility as firefighters to support a family, and any time something like this happens, it's our responsibility to come."

"Police and fire (departments) are the tightest brotherhood you're going to find," said Lt. Jeff Medere from the Maumee Fire Department. "That is the big thing about being a police officer or firefighter is that brotherhood and knowing that you're never alone and you have the support of your fellow brothers."

Monsegur Vasko said in his service, "No firefighter will ever walk alone." And no Toledo firefighter is alone with their pain for the loss of Machcinski and Dickman.

"When you leave on a call, you hope to come home," said Bob Warnimont, from the Perrysburg Township Fire Department. "And that's the feeling of all firefighters and policemen. Sometimes, it don't happen and you are the one called up to the big firehouse upstairs."

"You don't have to battle the beast anymore. We'll take it from here," Bacon said.

The church will hold a second memorial mass Sunday at 10 a.m. The parish has developed a relationship with the fire department after Toledo firefighters saved the church from destruction after its steeple was struck by lightning in 1980. TFD crews extinguished flames, saving the building.

"Without the Toledo Fire Department, there would be no historic St. Patrick's," said Monsegur Vasko.

A Final Alarm Service will be held for Machcinski and Dickman Thursday at 7 p.m. in downtown Toledo. WTOL 11 and FOX Toledo will carry the service live on the air.

Click here for much more on Toledo's fallen heroes, including ideas on how you can help their families and fellow firefighters.

Mobile users, click on the "Video" button in the app to watch this story. Download our app here.

Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.