WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. — The news of the loss of two York City firefighters killed in the line of duty, not only spread nationwide, but across North America.
The deaths of Ivan Flanscha and Zach Anthony touched thousands of firefighters, first responders, and other other emergency personnel who came to York County to pay their respects.
Wednesday’s cloudy and rainy weather matched the somber mood in the air outside the memorial service. It was a day filled with the mixed emotions of sadness and togetherness.
Firefighters from hundred to thousands of miles away answered the call to pay their respects to Ivan Flanscha and Zach Anthony.
Toronto firefighters association executive board officer Gerlando Peritore said “Friday, we were diverted. We were supposed to be going somewhere else, but our president got a hold of us, and said you guys are going down to represent. Not that he had to ask us to that, we wanted to do it.”
Lancaster Bureau of Fire retired deputy chief Ernest Rojahn said “we just met some people that came the whole way in from Oregon to be here. People from all over the place that understand that these things do happen and they want to remember the family and honor the firefighters that gave their lives.”
One-by-one, their fellow brothers and sisters filed into the memorial service for the two York City firefighters killed in the line of duty.
“Anytime you lose a member on a fire service, it’s a loss, it’s a big loss,” Peritore said.
Toronto fire service honor guard deputy commander Dan Bellamy said “it’s the brotherhood that unites us all together. It’s a tough job that we all love doing. When one of us suffers, we all suffer.”
“It’s tough, but being together with all of us, we get stronger, and we support each other,” Peritore said.
It’s a brotherhood that is there for each other in both life and death.
“We never work alone. We always work together. We always help one another, and the greatest asset we’ve always had is our ability to work together, and look out for one another,” Bellamy said.
“We’re here because right now, the guys here are hurting. We’re here to help support them through, and to show a solidarity. They’d do the same for us,” Bellamy added.
While they are recognized for their bravery, on this day, these everyday heroes are putting on a brave face.
“Unfortunately, I’ve gone through this more times than I’d like to even remember, but it’s something that’s not easy to handle,” Rojahn said.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Ralph Browning said “you have to go through the emotions of what the family is feeling. What their co-workers are feeling, and you just know that tomorrow you have to continue.”
With five line of duty deaths in one week, it’s been a difficult time for the brotherhood of firefighters.