Brother: Fireman Killed in Ambush Was Selfless

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -
A firefighter (L) wipes away tears during the funeral service for Lt. Mike Chiapperini in Webster, N.Y., Sunday. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)
A firefighter (L) wipes away tears during the funeral service for Lt. Mike Chiapperini in Webster, N.Y., Sunday. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

Tomasz Kaczowka’s father used to time how long it would take his volunteer firefighter son to get from his room to his car after hearing the sound of his pager, Kaczowka’s brother recalled Monday.

“There were times when I had to get out of the way or risk being run over,” Darek Kaczowka said during the funeral for his 19-year-old brother, one of two West Webster firefighters slain during an ambush in upstate New York on Dec. 31.

With hundreds of mourners attending the funeral, Tomasz Kaczowka was described by his brother and others as a selfless volunteer who was determined to help people and whom everyone liked.

“He had a personality which drew people to him like a magnet,” Deacon Ray Mielcarek said.

The service was held a day after the funeral of fellow firefighter Michael Chiapperini, a 43-year-old father of three and a lieutenant in the Webster Police Department.

At Chiapperini’s funeral Sunday, Webster Fire District Chief James Deisenroth called him a “true hero” and mentor who “gave me the courage and confidence to handle anything.”

Parts of Kaczowka’s funeral were said in Polish, including a message of condolence read by Mateusz Stasiek on behalf of the ambassador to Poland and consul general of the Republic of Poland in New York.

“You will stay forever young, forever a hero,” Stasiek added, “and you will never be forgotten.”

Kaczowka, who also worked as a 911 dispatcher, had been a firefighter for about a year after participating in the department’s Explorer program.