Thousands of people are expected to attend a Last Alarm funeral service in downtown Toledo today in honor of two city firefighters killed in the line of duty on Sunday.
The two-hour service for fire Private Stephen Machcinski, 42, and Private James Dickman, 31, at the SeaGate Convention Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave., will be open to the public and starts at 7 p.m.
The pair became trapped inside a burning two-story apartment building Sunday afternoon in North Toledo and, after being pulled out, were rushed to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead. Autopsies revealed the two died of burns and carbon-monoxide exposure.
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Before the joint service, a public viewing for Mr. Dickman will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CedarCreek Church, 29129 Lime City Rd., Perrysburg Township. From there, Mr. Dickman's body and his family will be escorted to the convention center for the service.
Mr. Machcinski's body and his family will also be at the funeral service.
City officials have been working to coordinate efforts to manage the anticipated heavy influx of people into the downtown area for the service.
Operators of downtown parking lots and garages have agreed to offer free parking after 5 p.m. to accommodate those attending.
“It's the right thing to do,” said Dan Fortinberry, general manager for ParkSmart, which operates the Vistula, Superior, and Port Lawrence garages.
“This is a very sad situation and it’s an unfortunate circumstance for the city, and we want to make sure we support the fire department and their families and make it as easy as possible for people to get into downtown,” said Steve Miller, Seagate Centre's general manager, who coordinated the parking plan.
Parking at SeaGate itself will be reserved for dignitaries and the fallen firefighters’ families, he said.
Eyde Corp. of Lansing will donate all proceeds from the Summit Street Parking garage at 215 N. Summit St. to the Toledo Fire and Rescue Foundation.
Jim Rundell, vice president for Eyde Corp., said, “It is important that we honor those who put their lives on the line for us every day, so we wanted to take this opportunity to show our support to this community.”
The convention center's doors will open at 6 p.m. Once the facility's 4,800 seats are filled, Mr. Miller said, the overflow audience will be escorted to the nearby Huntington Center, where the service will be televised on a large screen.
Mr. Miller said the SeaGate will bill the city only for event setup, tear down, and cleanup, not for the hall rental. The total cost won't be known until afterward, he said.
Before and during the event, Monroe Street will be closed between Summit and Michigan streets for fire truck parking. Erie Street will remain open at its intersection with Monroe.
The Toledo firefighters' deaths have been on the minds of many this week, with event postponements and special recognitions.
The Ohio Senate and House of Representatives both honored the men Wednesday with moments of silence on the chambers’ floors in Columbus.
“Firefighters go to work every day knowing it may be their last fire, knowing they have to perform feats that most people could not imagine and risking their lives to help others,” state Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) said on the House floor. “Both of these firefighters heroically gave their lives this past weekend while attempting to save others. Our deepest condolences go out to their families that they have left behind."
Individual services for the two men are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
At 7:30 a.m. Friday, a 65-mile procession for Mr. Dickman will start at Walker Funeral Home, 5155 W. Sylvania Ave., and end at The Chapel, 4444 Galloway Rd., Sandusky.
Officials asked anyone wishing to participate to gather on the Sylvania Avenue side of Franklin Park Mall. Toledo police will coordinate adding private vehicles to the procession.
A private prayer service for Mr. Machcinski will start at 10 a.m. Saturday at Walker Funeral Home, after which a procession will go to the Erie Street Market downtown for a private lunch. That procession is expected to pass Fire Station No. 5, 1 N. Ontario St., sometime between 11:30 a.m. and noon for a final salute, said Dave Latta, Walker's vice president.
Public staging for that procession also will be held at Franklin Park Mall.
The Historic Church of St. Patrick, 130 Avondale Ave., will hold a second firefighters' Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday. The first Mass in honor of the fallen firefighters was held on Wednesday.
The United Way of Greater Toledo postponed its Celebration of Giving, Celebration of Caring, “in respect to the two fallen Toledo firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families.”
The event was rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 12. Tickets purchased for the event will be applied to the March event. Anyone with questions can call 419-254-4667.
Blade Columbus Bureau Chief Jim Provance contributed to this report.