TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - It has been one month since the deaths of Privates Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman, but they are far from forgotten in the Glass City.
Many people have stepped up to the plate to help fill the firefighters' dinner plate while they're on the job. One woman's attempt to put a smile on the faces of our firefighters, has turned into a valued tradition.
The Feed Our Toledo Firefighters campaign is showing no signs of slowing down as a way to thank the department for what they do, as well as remember Machcinski and Dickman.
Jamie Armstrong got together with some friends to figure out how to support the firefighters following the tragedy. They not only organized meals for Toledo fire stations every day for two weeks after the fire, but now they're organizing commemorative dinners for all Toledo fire stations on the 26th of every month, as a way to honor the fallen firefighters and thank those on the job providing service.
"How do you keep it going and thank them everyday when there's not a tragedy? So that's how this commemorative the 26th of every month came about, was can we remember them every day every month, feed all 18 stations," said Kevin Nally with Feed Our Toledo Firefighters.
January 26, 2014 will be a date Toledo firefighters will not forget. Since then on a daily basis, 103 firefighters have been on the job responding to those calls for service.
"I think a lot of firefighters fell back on that professional standard they maintain. These were very trying times for us and I'm sure for a lot of folks they continue to be," said Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld with Toledo Fire & Rescue.
Hertzfeld says the recent tragedy is a reminder of how there's absolutely nothing "routine" about their line of work.
"I think it's always in the back of your head. It doesn't matter if it's a large incident or a small incident, it could be at a car wreck, it could be where you least expect it, where you find the gravest danger," explained Hertzfeld.
The lieutenant says they deeply appreciate all the support they've received the past month from the community and abroad.
"All those things to us keep that memory of Steve and Jamie alive, and I think that's the important thing. And I think on the bigger picture it talks about Toledo itself. The chief talked about Toledo strong in his address at the memorial service. That Toledo strong holds today as strong as it's ever been," Hertzfeld said.
Ultimately, he says a key portion of the healing process has been "on the job."
"It's just the nature of this job, where you talk to those you work with, and those you work with understand best what you see every day, understand best how tragic a loss that was to lose Steve and Jamie," explained Hertzfeld.
The public is invited to attend a traditional mass held at 5:30 p.m. at the historic Church of Saint Patrick on Avondale Avenue, which is considered the firefighters' parish. The church says it's tradition that on the 30th day of the death, there is a memorial to remember the lives and how they may be gone, but not forgotten.
Former residents of the building that went up in flames will also honor the fallen heroes Wednesday night. The residents of 528 Magnolia will hold a vigil at 6 p.m. in front of the building in north Toledo.
Stay with Toledo News Now for more about events honoring the one-month anniversary of our fallen heroes.
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