The senseless tragedy in West Webster on Christmas Eve, 2012 had a profound impact on the members of the Hamlin Fire Department. Members were in and out of the fire house all day Christmas Eve looking for updates and watching the news. Early in the afternoon Chief Allen Smith was contacted for a rescue company to fill in at West Webster on Christmas morning. A crew of six was gathered in a few minutes. Hamlin’s Heavy Rescue 248 with a crew of Chief Allen Smith, Lt. Pat Doerrer, driver Daryl Prince and firefighters Hannah Deserto, Tom Sercu, Mike Lapinski and John Deserto arrived at West Webster Station 1 at 6 AM Christmas Day. Companies from Spencerport, Hilton and Honeoye Falls were also there supporting our West Webster brothers.
Hamlin ran 3 EMS jobs with the ambulance during our 6 hour shift. During that time the Hamlin crew witnessed some of the most beautiful acts of kindness that they could remember. The outpouring from the Webster community was overwhelming. Inside the fire house the memorial on Tomasz’ car was just beginning and the chalkboard by the front door was filled with the names of all the departments that had filled in over the last 24 hours. Several members felt that that time at West Webster really helped their own emotional turmoil over this event. We realized that the time spent with our own families on our belated Christmas was even more precious.
The wake for Chief Chiaperini and Firefighter Kaczowka on Saturday was another emotional day. The staggering number of firefighters was completely awe-inspiring. Sixteen members of the Hamlin Fire Department joined about three hundred members of Monroe Counties Second Battalion and proudly waited three to four hours to pay their respects to the Chiaperini and Kaczowka families.
On Sunday, the crew that had been planning to cook a dinner at the Ronald McDonald House were able to leave Hamlin early and salute the funeral procession as it past the West Webster Station number 1. Another moving moment was when Chief Chiaperini past his firehouse for the final time.
When the Hamlin cooking crew of Deputy Chief Mike Gross and his wife Cathy, EMS Capt. Anthony DiNatale and firefighters Kelly and Tim Slossar and John Deserto arrived at the Ronald MacDonald house later that day the volunteers there were surprised that they could make it. Little did they know of the quiet determination of Hamlin firefighter Kelly Slossar who was determined that a dinner would be waiting those families staying that night. Ronald McDonald House volunteer Nancy Allison Becker posted the following on the Prayers and Support for Webster Firefighters Facebook page,
“I want to give a HUGE shout out for the Hamlin fire department. They are here at the Rochester Ronald McDonald House preparing dinner for our families that are staying here while they have a child in the hospital. Their generosity knows no limits. They came here directly from the fallen fire fighters funeral in Webster. May God bless them all. THANK YOU! ♥ #WWFD”
The comment had over 500 “likes” an hour or two later and many comments.
On Monday, New Years Eve, Hamlin sent an engine company to Webster Station 1 so they could attend the funeral of firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka. Engine 242 with Chief Allen Smith, Lt. A Deserto, driver Anthony DiNatale and firefighters Kelly Slossar, Tom Sercu, Scott Prince and John Deserto took a single call during their tour from 6 AM to 3 PM. The Hamlin company was joined by an engine from Rush and a ladder from East Rochester.
The Hamlin Fire Department was honored to be able to help our neighbors in West Webster during this horrible time. We will always be ready to do whatever needed by our First Battalion Brothers. In conclusion, Hamlin Chief Allen Smith sent the following out to the department,
"We should all be extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish this week in support of West Webster. The willingness of personnel to put West Webster's needs ahead of their own is incredible. Thank you all for what you do.
Click on the title or the photo's to view the entire story and all the photos.
- Story by John Deserto
Photo’s by Kelly Slossar, Anthony DiNatale, Victoria Freile of the Democrat and Chronicle, assorted pictures of Hamlin Members from the Prayers and Support for Webster Firefighters.