Death, Taxes and the Brotherhood

Depew Hook & Ladder Co PatchDear Tiger:

I enjoyed meeting you this morning at Depew’s day drill. I belong to the Depew Fire Department’s Hook & Ladder Co. 1. I am proudly a “Hook” with a Maltese Cross tattoo to prove it too. (Once a Hook, Always a Hook!)

I want to tell you this one story:

My proudest moment in the department came nearly two years ago, February 2011, at my Mom’s wake.

My Mom was a fireman’s wife. My Dad, Vince, died as a life member of the Winchester Volunteer Fire Co. many years ago. Mom was just weeks shy of her 89th birthday. We held the wake at Hoy’s Funeral Home in West Seneca.

I have two older brothers and one of them is very competitive and hates to be outdone. Well, he had quite a few friends and workmates show up to pay their last respects. He was rather proud of that.

As a company and department, “The Hooks” and Depew, always have a good turnout when someone from our “family” passes on. As usual, about halfway through the evening my Depew Fire family showed up. About 40-45 of them. Almost the entire Hook family and many more department family. It was extremely hard to fight back the tears. I was never more proud of being a firefighter than that moment. Of course, it was nice to out do my brother too! lol

But then something else happened just when I thought I couldn’t be any more proud. The funeral director came to find me and expressed that he couldn’t believe how many members turned out on a cold February evening to pay their respects. Fighting back more tears, trying not to get choked up, I explained to him that not only was that my company – “my guys” – but it was also my department brothers and sisters as well. I had to tell him I wasn’t surprised either. It’s just something we do. We truly are a family and we come together when someone needs it most.

More so than any function, fire, emergency or whatever else we are confronted with, this was what being a firefighter is all about to me -the brotherhood.

When I get a chance I have to tell you a story about my first fire as an eighteen year old “newbie” with Winchester many years ago but that’ll have to be later. I have to get some sleep now or I’ll never make it through the night tonight.

Thank you Tiger for all the work and dedication to our service you provide, and to the media as well. Guys like you are my heroes. Keep up the positive work.

Depew Fire Department
Hook & Ladder Vice President
Jan Kostran

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