CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a somber way to spend the Christmas holiday. Chicago firefighters have been preparing to bury two fallen colleagues – Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chicago firefighters planned to take part in two traditional firefighter funerals next week.
Visitation for Stringer was scheduled for 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Blake Lamb Funeral Home, 4727 W. 103rd St. in Oak Lawn. Stringer’s funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Rita of Casia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western.
Ankum’s funeral was scheduled for Thursday at Apostolic Church of God at 6320 S. Dorchester Av., but details of the funeral and visitation were still pending.
Firefighters from all over the city, and even from other states, will come out to pay their respects at the two funerals next week.
As firefighters prepared their dress uniforms on Friday, CBS 2 talked with them about the emotional week ahead.
For firefighters, preparing to say your final goodbye to a colleague often means a stop at The Chicago Fire Department Clothing Center. Protocol requires members attending the funeral of a fallen hero to wear dress blues.
“Getting my uniform together to be an honor guard for a fallen member, a fallen friend. … On Christmas Eve,” said Chicago Firefighter Eric Farmer.
Normally closed Christmas Eve, the store stayed open to accommodate the huge crowds of the last two days.
Some firefighters needed alterations, bigger sizes, or finishing touches.
“Yesterday we did five-, six-hundred people. Because it’s extremely important that they be in dress uniform for the funeral,” said Bob Zwick, the clothing center owner.
Zwick said his customers are fragile right now.
People like Eric Farmer, who worked alongside Ankum at Engine 72. He heard about the fatal fire after his shift ended Wednesday, but went to the scene anyway and helped with rescue efforts.
“I’m realizing these guys are from my house,” said Farmer. “I couldn’t believe it. They had just come in that morning. That was really hard.”
It got even worse, hearing Ankum had died.
“He was great guy, funny…. It’s a loss for the whole Fire Department.” Farmer said.
District Chief Mark Edingburg feels the same way about losing his friend, Edward Stringer.
“He was a guy who’d do anything you asked him to do. He’d keep doing it until you told him to stop,” said Edingburg. “It’s real hard. We’re all here trying to get our uniforms together and get everything organized so we can show our respect to our brothers.”
That’s what these traditions are all about. Showing gratitude for the contributions, and sacrifices a firefighter makes.
This will be a long week for some already exhausted firefighters. They have a holiday and two funerals ahead. But they may get some comfort from what’s sure to be a huge display of camaraderie.