Friends remember Firefighters killed in Ambush - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Friends remember Firefighters killed in Ambush

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By Angela Hong (WHAM)- It's the first of many goodbyes to come.

On Christmas Day, Monroe County firefighters gathered to salute 19-year-old Tomasz Kaczowka as his body was escorted to a funeral home.

"His last actions was leaving this fire station, this was his home. He was here all the time. It was only natural after the body was released that he be brought back where it started."

Kaczowka and 43-year-old Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini were both West Webster Firefighters. They were shot Christmas Eve while responding to a fire. The two men were good friends.

"Tomasz was quiet. He did his job, pretty much unnoticed. Didn't look for thanks or anything like that.  He just did what needed to be done. Chip was, his personality was as such that he would make you laugh in the worst of situations, or he would find something to laugh about and he did it naturally."

Amidst their pain and grief, the West Wesbster firefighters returned to work the next day - on Christmas.

"We want them to return to a point of normalcy as quickly as possible. Obviously it's not going to be quick. The first few runs they go out on, quite frankly, they may be looking over their shoulder, but at some point in time this organization had to get back to what we do."

And after 36 hours of filling in for West Webster area fire departments left and West Webster pulled in, knowing if needed. They had the support of the community and their brother firefighters.
"We're all family, brothers and sisters. It's going to be a long time before this department gets over this. I understand and if they need us to help out we'll be here."  

The funeral for Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini's will be held this coming Sunday.

Tomasz Kaczowka will be laid to rest the next day.

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