I joined this website not because I am a fireman but a brother of firefighter Michael Austin who was killed in the 1983 propane explosion in Buffalo New york. I just came across the article written by MIke Lombardo who is now commissioner of the buffalo department. My experience during the time during the funeral all those years ago and has given me a glimpse into what it means to be a fireman. The "brotherhood" is a bond as strong as any family bond and depending on the family sometimes even stronger. My brother's co workers were there to support my family in any way they could during the time following the accident. They allowed me to visit them at the firehouse any time and often asked me to stay for dinner just to talk and work through the grief. This glimpse into the life of a fireman had me thinking that I might want to do it as a career. The only reason I didnt was one day my father overheard me say that and he had a fit. He made me promise that I would forget that Idea. He didnt get to see it the way I did so he didnt understand about the brotherhood. All he knew was that he buried a son and he didnt want to have to do it again. So I kept my promise to my grieving father and never pursued the idea. One thing I found most impressive is talking with fireman from all over the country and seeing the genuine sadness in their eyes, by that I mean they were complete strangers to my brother bound ounly by their common career and they seemed just as sad as I was. I talked with one person from alaska. the other image that is as fresh in my mind as it was when it happened 25 years ago this wednesday is leaving St Joeseph's Cathedral in downtown buffalo on a cold Buffalo day with temps in the single digits with below zero chill and seeing fireman in full dress uniform 6-10 deep lining both sides of the street for it seemed like 20 blocks standing at attention as the hurses passed. I remember thinking that I wished I could thank them all for there support and being a little sad that it would never be possible. Well it is my hope that some of you who were there might read this and know that your show of support is something that was extremely helpful in getting through that terrible time. These men have been called heroes and I agree with that but I would also like to add that you all are heros everyday you get up and go to work. even if nothing happend but you sat outside the house cooking on the grill and working that killer tan. It is your readiness to protect your community that makes you a hero not the act of giving your life in defense of the community.
To all Buffalo fireman who worked with my brother, I thank you for your support and for that brief glimpse into the true meaning of what it means to be a fireman. I consider you all part of my extended family
Thanks for your service and god bless all of you. Stay safe out there!!