Candles and flowers adorn the wall outside the West Webster Fire Department. Wreaths honor Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka. Both were ambushed and killed while responding to a house fire. First responders from several departments including Chili, Henrietta, and Irondequoit came to pay their respects.
Clair Guadagnino was a long time friend of Officer Chiapperini, who was called Chip by just about everbyody he knew, "he's always been called, 'Chip,' when people called him Mike I had no clue who they were talking about," explained Guadagnino.
Chip was loved by friends and the community for his service, " when my mom was very sick he was there when the ambulance got there, he sat next to my mom and tried to comfort her," explained Guadagnino, "so he's just, he was a good man."
Anthony Bellassai is originally from Irondequoit. Now living in Arizona, he's in Webster for the holiday. Although he didn't know Mike Chiapperini or Tomasz Kaczowka the tragedy still hits close to home, "we're very close to where it happened we're about two or three miles away," said Bellassai, "we woke up to the helicopters and everything."
He says he started talking about meeting at the fire house to honor the fallen firefighters on Facebook, and is comforted by the strong show of support, "you can see the result, so it's really, it's a nice outpouring of the community for the fallen," explained Bellassai. For Bellassai, it was just something he had to do, "we do this out west also and I just kind of felt compelled to do it while I was here for the holidays."
While the community comes to terms with the loss of Chiapperini and Kaczowka it's not certain if everyone will be able to move forward, "I know that there's strength in numbers and with all the prayer we will get through," said Guadagnino, "but I don't think it will ever be the same, I think it's going to be a long road."