Flags are at half-staff across Toledo, and the state of Ohio, Monday as the city mourns the loss of two firefighters killed after battling an apartment building blaze.
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins asked that all flags be lowered to half-mast as of 8 a.m. Monday to honor Private Stephen Machcinski and Private James Dickman. The firefighters died Sunday after suffering fatal injuries while fighting a fire at 528 Magnolia Street in north Toledo.
Machcinski, 42, was a 16-year veteran of Toledo Fire and Rescue and a graduate of Whitmer High School, according to Facebook. Dickman, 31, had been on the squad for just six months. Both men were assigned to the fire department's Engine 3 - Station 3.
At a Sunday night press conference, Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago spoke of some of the the men's final moments. He said Machcinski and Dickman both entered the structure to begin firefighting efforts around 3:00 p.m. "During the course of those efforts, they suffered fatal injuries," said Santiago. "After what can be described as valiant efforts to help their fellow firefighters, they removed them from the structure and began immediate care and life-saving measures."
The men were taken to Mercy St. Vincent's Medical Center where life-saving efforts continued. They were pronounced dead a short time later.
Mayor Collins, himself a former first responder as a veteran of the Toledo Police Department, offered his thoughts on the day's tragic events. "Those who are engaged in public service ironically take a different path," said the mayor. "They run into harm's way as opposed to running away from harm's way."
Collins asked that Toledoans signify the importance of both fire and police by lowering flags to half-mast.
Ohio Governor John Kasich has also asked that flags across the state be lowered, from sunrise to sunset Monday, in honor of the lives and heroic actions of Privates Machcinksi and Dickman.
A page was set up on Facebook Sunday to signal a Toledo Fire & Rescue 'Last Alarm' for the fallen firefighters, dated 1/26/2014.
Chief Santiago said a formal and detailed investigation into Sunday's events will take place. "We will get down to the bottom of what happened today," he told reporters.
Another Facebook page has been set up for those wishing to help feed Toledo's fire and rescue personnel this week. Dozens of individuals have signed up to provide dinners for crews at fire stations across the city.
The last Toledo firefighter killed in the line of duty was Michael Darrington who was found unresponsive inside Fire Station No. 14 in South Toledo in February 2009. He was 45. Officials said he died of a heart attack.