By MORGAN MANNS
The death of two Toledo firefighters has brought a greater meaning to life to northwest Ohio residents and a greater respect for those who protect it.
Toledo firefighters Stephen A. Machcinski, 42, and James Dickman, 31, died Sunday due to injuries sustained while fighting a fire at 528 Magnolia St., Toledo.
According to published reports, Machcinski had more than 15 years of service, while Dickman was appointed to the department in September of 2013.
The last Toledo firefighter fatality from an active blaze was dated in 1981, according to reports.
Fostoria Fire Chief Keith Loreno said the Fostoria Fire Division has not had any fatalities while on duty. However, two firefighters were seriously injured in 1994 when they fell through a set of stairs at a North Union Street residence while fighting a fire. The stairs leading to the second floor gave way and sent the two men falling through the floor into the basement, one on top of the other.
One accrued a severe neck injury, which eventually caused him to leave the division, while the other sustained injury to his vertebrae.
“After something like Toledo… that hits a lot of people hard,” Loreno said. “It reminds you that it can happen here in northwest Ohio. It makes you realize what good things you have.”
At least three former Fostoria firefighters work at Toledo fire stations, including Brandon Fox, Josh Althause and David Gallagher.
Loreno said many of the men were concerned for these firefighters, as well as others they might know. Several firefighters at the station trained with a firefighter from Toledo and a few have relatives who work there.
“Guys you know, guys you used to work with, guys you’re related to… It hits home when you know so many people working at the department,” Lt. Brian Herbert said.
“It’s tough to talk about,” firefighter David Cook said. “It tears you apart thinking about it.”
Loreno said Fostoria Fire Division, like all other fire departments, works and lives by the national saying “everyone goes home.” When someone doesn’t, it creates a feeling that is “indescribable.”
“When you’re in the fire house, you’re part of a family,” Loreno said. “It’s dysfunctional at times but you’re always a family. No one wants to lose a member of that family.”
Fostoria Fire Division consists of 19 men; Chief Loreno, Capt. Jim Walters, Capt. Scott Basinger, Capt. Warren Digby, Lt. Brian Herbert, Lt. Jason Root, Lt. Jerry Goodman, firefighters Michael Stahl, Randy Rubel, Harry Miller, David Cook, Cory Gregg, Mark Cassidy, and firefighter-medics Kyle Blausey, Jason Distel, Greg Keiser, Robert Payne, Fred Reinhart and Joe Gill.
“When everyone’s running out, we’re the ones that want to run into the fire,” Loreno said. “We don’t look at the horror of someone that’s been in a trauma situation. We’re focused on what the task is, whether it be a primary rescue or putting out a fire.
“Being a firefighter, it creates a very strong bond. There’s not many professions where the person you’re working with may very well be the person you die with that same day. But to us, it’s not just a job. Usually anyone involved would consider it a calling.”
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