Thursday, December 18, 2014

Local first responders heading to Webster to attend calling hours, funerals

ORISKANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Hundreds of firefighters will head to Webster, N.Y. this weekend to honor the lives of two volunteer firefighters shot and killed on Christmas Eve. Dozens of local first responders will make the trip.

"The fire service itself is kind of like a brotherhood and sisterhood where it doesn't matter where you are from in the nation, something like this happens ,it's a tragic event," said Jeffrey Burkhart, chief of the Oriskany Fire Department. "And unfortunately the circumstances behind it make it even that much more difficult for people to understand."

Like both victims in this case, Burkhart wears two public safety hats. He is an Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy and also the chief of the Oriskany Fire Department. "The reason it kind of hits home is because it could have been any one of us and a lot of the firefighters in the area recognize that. They are the base of most communities. If you look around. If you have something going on in the villages or the areas that they serve, the majority of the stuff that is based for the community, the fire departments are usually the backbone of it."

Calling hours for Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka will be held at Webster Schroeder High School. Calling hours Friday night are for Webster firefighters and police officers only. Chiapperini was also a lieutenant with the Webster Police Department.

The public can pay respects on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.

Seventy first responders from Oneida County will join at least 14 more from Herkimer County for the trip.

Several of them will be staying for the funerals on Sunday and on Monday.