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Community remembers fallen firefighters 5 years after tragedy

(File WHAM photo)

Webster, N.Y. (WHAM) - Sunday marks five years since firefighters Tomasz Kaczowka and Michael Chiapperini were shot and killed in an ambush attack in West Webster, a somber day for the local community.

The two men were honored and remembered at a ceremony Saturday.

Al Sienkiewicz at the West Webster Fire Department says time has not healed the shock of losing these men.

For the community it's a difficult day, but an important one to remember.

They held prayer, and a moment of silence for the fallen firefighters.

Officers, first responders and family honored 43-year-old Chiapperini and 19-year-old Kaczowka.

Danielle Liberatore, the niece of Chiapperini said “It's important we remember two heroes who selflessly put their lives on the line everyday."

“They died doing what they love to do," she said.

It's a painful day to remember for Liberatore.

“My daughter was running around here, and she never got to meet my uncle. I feel bad she never had the opportunity to get to know what a great man he was,” said Liberatore.

Five years ago on Christmas Eve, a gunman set his house on fire, luring first responders to his home, then shooting them in what deputies describe as an ambush.

Volunteer firefighters Chiapperini and Kaczowka were killed.

Joseph Hofstetter and Ted Scardino were also shot and survived the attack.

The gunman 62-year-old William Spengler shot and killed himself.

“It's something that rocked this community,” Justin Collins, a badge of honor police officer said. “It's obviously something no one's ever going to forget.”

It is something that even five years later, brings a moment to pause and pray, reflecting on the tragedy, while remembering the men for who they were.

“They were the type of people who would literally give you the clothes off their back. That's just how they were,” Liberatore added.

“They will never be forgotten,” officer Michael Boehm said. “We will be here ever year to the end of time, and good triumphs evil.”

This tragedy has changed how firefighters train. How to handle an ambush situation is now part of their training.

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