Penn Township Fire Dept. begins new Christmas tradition to honor fallen firefighters
MISHAWAKA, Ind. --It’s the start of a new Christmas tradition for the Penn Township Fire Department in Mishawaka.
Firefighters took the time to remember their fellow brothers and sisters lost in the line of duty this year by writing each of their names on ornaments to decorate a nine-foot tree on display at the station.
There are 83 bulbs on the tree this year representing the 83 firefighters lost in 2018 in the United States.
This is a brand new tradition at the Penn Township fire station and it’s one their hoping to continue to do every year.
For them, the tree is humbling and gives them an opportunity to reflect and understand how each of the firefighters on the tree lost their lives.
For the division chief, one of those ornaments is a little special.
“One of these bulbs up here specifically is Matt Letourneau, this is one is very special to me,” Brian Kazmierzak, Division Chief of Training at Penn Township Fire, said. “On January 6, 2018 he died in the line of duty in west Philadelphia in a building collapse. Matt and I had worked on building a training curriculum together for basement fires that was delivered across the United States. I got very, very close with Matt, got to know Matt, to be able to keep his memory alive along with the 82 others around here, it’s very important.”
Kazmierzak also said seeing this tree everyday helps them remember that they are not invincible.
This year 83 firefighters were lost in the line of duty – so there are 83 bulbs adorning the nine-foot tree.
“The holiday season and thinking about this is kind of hard when you think about it, you’re talking about someone’s memory, somebody’s family, and they’re not with them for the holidays,” Kazmierzak said. “For us, it’s a time to reflect and to understand how each one of these firefighters died in the line of duty and prevent it from happening here locally.”
The Penn Township firefighters are wishing everyone with a loved one represented on the tree a Merry Christmas.