BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Fire have identified the firefighter who was killed in the line of duty during a fire on Main Street Wednesday.
Jason Arno, 37, was a three-year member of the Buffalo Fire Department. Arno served with Engine 2, which is housed at the fire station at Virginia Street and Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. There is now a growing memorial of flowers and other items on a bench outside the truck bay which houses Engine 2.
Union leaders say other members of the platoon who served with Arno have some time off to collect themselves, grieve, and seek counseling, which is available. They will be back in Friday for a debriefing session.
There are two verified GoFundMe accounts for the family: one set up by Delton Arno, and another set up by Courtney Englert.
The fire department lost contact with Arno shortly after a "mayday" call came through the radio.
The mayday call was issued while crews were working on extinguishing the fire in the building and was related to the unaccounted-for firefighter.
The Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282, the union that represents fire fighters posted on Facebook that Arno is a "father, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend."
"We, the proud firefighters of the city of Buffalo will honor our fallen. We will stand for him now and forever as we've done for so many others we've lost in this department's history. We will never forget. This is a brotherhood and a sisterhood. This is a family that bands together. Not just here in our city but across the nation and beyond. We greatly appreciate the outpouring love and support. Please continue to keep our fallen brother and his family in your thoughts and prayers," they said in their post.
Later in the day Local 282 President Vincent Ventresca spoke with reporters. He said Jason Arno had previously been assigned at Engine 21 and the Rescue unit before he ended up at the fire station at Virginia and Elmwood.
"He ended up at Engine 2 which is one of the busiest - if not the busiest company in the city and he wanted to be a part of and be in the action and so he was an excellent person," Ventresca said.
Ventresca added: "The interactions that we did have, he's just an upbeat positive person. Great guy with again the smile on his face all the time. So happy to be a firefighter. So happy to be working at a busy company. He wanted to do the job to the best of his availability. Obviously there was no question about his bravery. He was willing to sacrifice. So that's a powerful message that all the members know. That everyone is out there doing the best they can and putting their life on the line for the citizens."
Ventresca also pointed out: "In this situation it was rapid fire spread and I don't think there was even an understanding. A building of that structure (three story old warehouse) is not our usual fire. You know we're used to fighting fires in residential homes, two and a half story frames, and this is a large warehouse three story commercial grade. And things just went south."
Arno graduated from Canisius High School in 2003.
“Our entire community mourns the loss of Jay Arno and our thoughts and hearts are with his family and the Buffalo Fire Department,” said Canisius High School Principal Tom Coppola ’01.
The union is collecting donations for the Arno Family. Checks can be made out to Buffalo Professional Firefighters and sent to or dropped off at 500 Southside Parkway, Buffalo NY, 14210. Call 716-856-4130 with any questions.
The Arno family will also receive funding assistance from the city and the state.
"Just a bright, young man with everything in front of him. Just was married over the summer, had a 3-year-old girl at home, his whole future in front of him." Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said. "Just a great all-around person. No one ever had anything negative to say about firefighter Arno."
He added "He was a hero. He was a brave, committed firefighter. He went into0 this job with his eyes wide open to serve the citizens of Buffalo. And he is to be commended for that. And he's gonna be honored for that."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown released the following statement:
“This is a heartbreaking time for our city. Yesterday, 37-year-old Buffalo Firefighter Jason Arno showed his bravery and commitment to fire service by putting on his uniform and carrying out his sworn duty to protect and serve the residents of this city. Tragically, he lost his life protecting others. I share my deepest sympathies with everyone who knew and loved him. I ask all City residents to keep his family, and the entire Buffalo Fire Department, in your prayers during this difficult time.”
The fire happened at 745 Main Street just before 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Renaldo said the fire investigation team is working to interview workers who were reported to be using a torch in the area where they believe the fire started. A cause will not be officially determined until those workers can be interviewed. Officials believe that a fire was smoldering a while before the fire really erupted and officials were called.
Black and purple bunting has been draped over the front of Engine 2 to honor their fallen hero. Flags are also being flown at half staff.
The City of Buffalo announced that it is requesting buildings be lit up red beginning starting Thursday night.
Ventresca says city and the union will discuss with the family what sort of memorial service they want. But he says Jason Arno will be buried with full honors. It is possible there will be large service and a procession with firefighters taking part from around the country and the world. It may be held sometime next week.
Jason Arno's name will also eventually be added to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Maryland near Washington. He is the 12th firefighter to die in the line of duty here in the United States so far this year.