It's one more step towards "a new normal." That's how firefighters from West Webster described the emotional ceremony in Albany Tuesday, adding the names of their fallen brothers to the New York State firefighters' memorial. YNN's Geoff Redick was there and brings us the somber sights and sounds in this report.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- As nine names were added to New York's Fallen Firefighters Memorial Tuesday, the song lyrics performed on the Empire State Plaza perfectly captured the message of the day: "They laid their lives on the line, do or die."
"What I see in this profession is endless courage, support and incredible sense of service to everybody," said Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy as spoke to hundreds of attending firefighters and their families. "What you do every day changes the landscape of our communities."
But the landscape is changing for firefighters, too. On the job hazards once thought unthinkable, like gunfire aimed at first responders, have become real threats. Two such incidents have happened in Western New York in the past year, including one on Monday outside Buffalo.
The other incident, a Christmas Eve ambush at a home in West Webster, N.Y., led to a pair of firefighters being shot and killed while responding to a car fire. On Tuesday, their names were added to the memorial: Michael J. Chiapperini and Tomasz M. Kaczowka. Families of the men were also given ceremonial folded flags.
"It's just an honor to be here to support the families and honor our two fallen," Ken Smith told YNN after the ceremony. Smith, the president of the West Webster Firemen's Association, was one of 50 West Webster firefighters who spent a weekend trip memorializing Chiapperini and Kaczowka at several locations in Maryland and Eastern New York.
"You want to move on at some point, but you find your 'new normal,'" West Webster Fire Chief Jim Deisenroth added. "It's tough, but we make adjustments every day. We're getting there."
Chiapperini and Kaczowka join thousands of other names on the memorial.