Video: Hundreds pay respects at services for N.Y. Firefighter Jason Arno
“The response has been overwhelming from firefighters here locally, across the country and internationally,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown
By Maki Becker
The Buffalo News, N.Y.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two lines formed outside Amigone Funeral Home on Delaware Avenue on Thursday afternoon — one for uniformed first responders and the other for friends and loved ones of fallen Buffalo Firefighter Jason Arno.
The day before his funeral, which is expected to draw thousands of mourners, including firefighters from around the country and over the border, dozens came to pay their respects at his wake.
Arno’s truck, Engine 2, which on Friday will carry his casket to St. Joseph Cathedral for his funeral, was parked in front of the funeral home Thursday, adorned with black and purple bunting.
Mounted deputies with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office stood guard at the driveway as volunteers with therapy dogs mingled with the crowd.
Among the first to pay their respects at the wake were Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Fire Commissioner William Renaldo and Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, along with deputy fire and police commissioners.
“We wanted to pay our respect to our fallen hero, Firefighter Jason Arno,” Brown told reporters. “We wanted to show our love and support for his wife, his mother, the entire family. To let them know they are supported and we will be here to support them, not just these next two difficult days, but for the long haul.”
Brown described an “incredible outpouring of support” that was expected to continue into the night and then again on Friday.
“It is an incredible brotherhood — brotherhood and sisterhood. The response has been overwhelming from firefighters here locally, across the country and internationally, as well,” Brown said.
“The turnout is amazing,” Renaldo said.
But it’s not surprising, he added. That’s what firefighters do for each other, no matter where in the world they are.
“You can travel anywhere in this country and abroad and walk into any fire station. We all talk the same language,” he said.
City leaders asked the public to show their support for Arno, his family and the Buffalo Fire Department by lining up along the procession route.
“We’re asking members of the community that would like to show their support and pay their respects to line the route of the procession,” Brown said.
“Salute, wave some flags, do whatever you think to show respect and honor Jason,” Renaldo said.
Rob Durette and Matthew Fournier, firefighters from Somerset, Mass., drove seven hours on Thursday to attend the wake. Then they planned to drive right back to Massachusetts.
“We’re on duty tomorrow,” Fournier said, as the firefighters in their dress uniforms walked toward the funeral home.
It was important, they said, to represent their department and to pay their respects.
“We’re one giant family,” Durette said.
Scott Bateman, a captain with the Niagara Falls, Ontario, Fire Department, made the trip over the border Thursday. He, too, is on duty on Friday. He said a large contingent from his department, made up of about 300 professional and volunteer firefighters, planned to attend either the wake or the funeral.
“We all try to do this for each other,” Bateman said. “It could be any one of us.”
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