ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s 5:30 am on Christmas Eve. And a call comes in.
There’s a fire on Lake Road in Webster.
Who’s up, who’s trained and who’s willing to answer that call?
On this day 10 years ago it was Michael Chiapperini, Tomasz Kaczowka, Joe Hofstetter and Ted Scardino.
Chiapperini and Kaczowka would not return from that call.
Saturday morning, before the sun rose, the fire trucks rolled out of Station 1 of the West Webster Fire Department so people could come in, gather and remember.
“When the alarm was sounded, when the pager was activated, they responded and placed their lives on the line,” West Webster Chaplain W. Hugh Knight told the crowd.
It was a short, somber ceremony focused on remembering the firefighters more than that day.
“Thank you for the memories of these men and the memories that they gave us,” Knight said.
The memory of that day, though, for many in this department, is impossible to forget.
The day a man set that fire, lay in wait and when those firefighters arrived took aim and fired.
“I’m not convinced everybody is through this, to be perfectly honest with you, but we’ll keep going,” said Al Sienkiewicz, a West Webster firefighter.
All four men were shot that day.
Chiapperini and Kakzowka died there on Lake Road.
They died not just because they answered that call, but because on that dark, cold, holiday morning they answered that call before anyone else.
Their dedication and sacrifice are now honored at Station 1 through a new remembrance room – built to remind and to teach.
“We have new members who weren’t there and they don’t truly understand everything that went on that day, that week, that month,” Sienkiewicz said.
But those new members, like those around them and before them, are ready, at any hour, to answer that call.