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Firefighters travel from across WNY, other parts of U.S. to pay tribute to firefighter Jason Arno

Firefighters lined up outside St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo to honor fallen Buffalo firefighter Jason Arno.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There was a powerful, poignant show of support in the streets surrounding St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo on Friday morning as firefighters from across the region — and across the country — gathered to pay their respects to fallen Buffalo firefighter Jason Arno.

They lined up, row after row, in their dress uniforms with polished shoes and crisp, white gloves, raised in a salute to honor Arno.

Those in attendance say it's about dignity, respect, and remembering a fallen hero — and showing the family they grieve alongside them.

"There were a thousand guys, thousands of guys who were here just supporting them, and they will support them for the rest of their lives. We will never forget them or what Jason sacrificed," said Captain JD Tehle of the Bradford, Pa., Fire Department.

Tehle was in attendance with friend and fellow firefighter Jim Kenney from the Boston, Mass., Fire Department. The two met at a funeral for FDNY firefighters in 2005.

Kenney has traveled to numerous firefighter funerals during his time on the job, and he appreciates the support his own department has gotten when they suffered losses.

"We incurred line of duty services not too long ago, and it's for the family. You show up. It's a brotherhood, obviously. We have strong camaraderie, but it's for the family. Being on the other end of it, seeing guys travel, Toronto guys, guys from Canada, it means something," Kenney said.

There were also members of law enforcement in attendance, such as New York State Police and members of the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

Among those standing outside in the snow and cold was retired Buffalo Police Officer Debbie Buyers. Her husband and brother both retired from the Buffalo Fire Department.

She was tearful, as she held her own flag while watching two BFD ladder trucks raise a giant American flag over the intersection of Franklin and Church streets.

"It's very difficult, thinking about his family and getting that knock on the door that we all dread. My heart just bleeds for them and the whole Buffalo Fire Department," Buyers said.

She said it's been an emotional week, and she and her son recounted unsettling moments when their loved ones were serving in the department and were in dangerous situations. She said the only thing she ever hoped for was that she, her husband, and brother made it home safely after each shift.


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