Both men were ambushed responding to a fire call on Lake Road, "I heard pop pop pop and thought it was tires or shocks in the car," said Scardino, "and within a second of the first pop, Chip says we're getting shot at."
Firefighters Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were shot and killed. Thousands paid their respects at their funerals. Thousands of others helped with fundraisers. Hofstetter and Scardino are happily amazed the tragedy has brought out the best in so many people, "one negative act was way overshadowed by tons and tons of support," explained Hofstetter.
Both men are shy about being called, "heroes," but are proud they have inspired others to become volunteers in West Webster and other fire departments, "if we encourage people to volunteer their time and give that support to their community it's a great thing," said Hofstetter. They're also touched by what's being called the West Webster Provision in the New York SAFE Act. It calls for the maximum penalty for anyone convicted of murdering a first responder, "hopefully it will make people who are going to do insane things like this think twice," said Scardino, "and in this case he was a coward and killed himself, it wouldn't have applied, but I think it's a good thing."
As they look forward they hope their injuries won't hold them back much longer, "I tell myself to be patient, I'm an impatient person so I was ready to go back weeks ago," explained Hofstetter, "but I just remind myself that it's a long process and to just keep working hard and hopefully the day will come sooner than later."
While they're optimistic about the future they know things will never be the same, "it's going to be different, it's going to be strange, it was something you never thought of," explained Scardino, "now you may be looking over your shoulder when you respond to a call."
Both men still have months of physical therapy ahead of them. They attend sessions a few days a week.