Toledo firefighters say last of two goodbyes to fallen brothers

(Toledo News Now) - The cold and rain wasn't enough to keep hundreds of civilians and off-duty firefighters from standing outside for hours, in honor of a man who dedicated his life to serving their community.

"I came in from Chicago in a pretty good, icy snow storm," said Toledo native Doug Rohr. "I made it here in time to do this."

United as one, Toledoans lined N Ontario Street with their hands over their hearts, as the casket carrying Private Stephen Machcinski slowly made its way past Toledo Fire Station Five.

Toledo firefighters, in their dress blues, saluted their fallen brother during the procession.

Machcinski was a 15-year veteran of the Toledo Fire Department. The 42 year old, along with 31-year-old firefighter James Dickman, died last Sunday battling a burning North Toledo apartment fire.

The building owner , Ray Abou-Arab, was charged on Friday with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of arson. Abou-Arab is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Saturday's procession sparked flashbacks for some members of the community with a special connection to the Toledo Fire Department. Joan Dowling, whose late father retired from Fire Station 25 in 1981, reflected on the procession and outpouring of support from local firefighters when her father passed away.

"Oh my, it was so emotional…so emotional, but so humbling," said Dowling. "For these firemen, it's such a brotherhood. It's something that you can't even describe. It's just unbelievable."

Many people say, both Machcinski and Dickman's deaths have made Toledoans reevaluate who the real heroes are within the community.

"It's like everybody says, they're running into danger when everybody else is running out. It takes someone special to be a firefighter," said Dowling. "I don't think they look at themselves as heroes. They're doing what they love," added Dowling.

A prayer service was held at 10 a.m. Saturday morning for Machcinski at Walker Funeral Home, followed by a private lunch at the Erie Street Market for family and firefighters.

A memorial mass will take place in honor of both Private Machcinski and Private Dickman on Sunday, February 2, at 10 a.m.

It is being held at the Historic Church of St. Patrick on Avondale Avenue in Toledo. The public is welcome.

The community continues to show support for the department and families of the victims in a variety of ways. Click here to learn how you can help donate.

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