Fighting Back After Fatal Fire

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Erik Swanson is doing what he can to keep his muscles strong and his mind emotionally sound.

"The doctors seem to feel I'll be okay to go back to work," he said.

He was one of 5 York City firefighters putting out hot spots at the Weaver Organ and Piano Factory the day after the building went up in flames.

"We never thought this would ever happen, but it did.  I was standing very close to Ivan and Zach when the building collapsed."

They were sent plunging to the ground floor.   Buried under rubble, Swanson managed to claw his way out, with only minor injuries.   2 other firefighters survived.   Ivan Flanscha and Zach Anthony, did not.

"First two weeks it was like a movie reel on a loop in my head and it was awful.  It will never ever ever go away,  and part of me doesn't ever want it to go away, because I don't want to ever forget them," Swanson said.   So to make sure, he did something he had never done before.  He got a tattoo in their honor.  It entails his badge,  Flanscha and Anthony's badge numbers, the date of the building collapse, the exact time of the collapse and the mourning ribbon around the badge.

"When you feel like you cheated death and you lose 2 of your friends in the process, that's pretty profound," he admitted.  He also said that he and Flanscha were hired together and spent the past 19.5 years on the force together a good friends.  While survivor's guilt is challenging, Swanson said it won't be nearly as difficult as doing back to work without his fellow brothers.

" I saw a lot of big strong men break down when this happened, but they (firefighters) are very strong, not just physically but emotionally and nearly everyone of them is back to work doing their job.  You never want to forget but you have to move forward."

Swanson said his tattoo will be a constant reminder of his fellow firefighters and the job they do every day.


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