Fallen Firefighter's Car Used As Memorial As WWFD Donations Continue
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The West Webster Fire Department has been overwhelmed by donations ever since it suffered the loss of two of its own on Christmas Eve.
Thirty thousand bottles of water, thousands of cookies, some cakes, chips, pies plus more.
"It shows the generosity of the community to help people out. Social media has helped us do that sometimes in a way when you can't control it though," says Bryan Bayer, W. Webster Volunteer Firemen's Association Vice President.
Keeping track of the department's donations is what veteran fireman Bayer is assigned to do.
"I've been a fireman here for 36 years. I've seen generous things to the fire department in the way of thanks. This doesn't compare to everything I've seen in the past," he said.
Bayer says the donations have been overwhelming to say the least. He says some of what has been given will be paid forward and donated to local food cupboards, the Red Cross and other non-profits so it won't go to waste.
"Donations first started out in the form of water, food, pizzas," said Bayer. "And then it evolved into gifts and flowers."
Some of those flowers and gifts line fallen firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka's personal car.
It was allowed to be parked inside the firehouse the night before Christmas Eve,
since Kaczowka was assigned to the department's "fly car" or rapid response vehicle.
"People are amazed to see how many flowers we have here," said Bayer.
Now his car has become a shrine honoring the department's fallen comrades.
"There are a lot of personalized items. People have written to Tomasz and Chip, 'in memory of,' little trinkets, some hand sketches over there," said Bayer.
Every day the memorial grows.
"The memorial will be left here with until everybody feels fairly comfortable with how we are progressing and we've gotten over it," said Bayer. "We need to reflect on it and we've invited the community to come and donate to please take a look at the memorial and help them understand the breath of what's been going on here."
Bayer says it's hard to tally up every dollar and donated item they've received. The plan is to split the funds four ways between the families of the firefighters injured and killed Christmas Eve. Some of the gifts will be divided throughout the department.
"It makes you proud to be part of the fire department and part of the community that people are identifying with what happened," said Bayer.