For first time in decades, annual service honors York firefighters killed in line of duty
More than 100 people filled the St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in York City on Sunday, April 29, to honor the York City firefighters who died during the past year.
The event is in its 142nd year, and for the first time in nearly 50 years, attendees honored firefighters killed in the line of duty.
"It's different this year — it's different," the Rev. Kevin Shively, the department's chaplain, told the congregation.
York City firefighters Ivan Flanscha, 50, and Zachary Anthony, 29, died March 22 after a wall collapsed while they were at the former Weaver Piano and Organ Co. building at 127 N. Broad St.
Flanscha and Anthony were the 12th and 13th York City firefighters to die in the line of duty.
The last time a York City firefighter died on the job was in 1971.
Service: Shively, who has been the department's chaplain since 2006, said the love from the members of the department following the deaths of Anthony and Flanscha was "something to behold."
"In the weeks since March 22nd, I've never been more proud to be the chaplain of this department," he said.
Shively urged those in attendance to try not to look back and think of what could have prevented their deaths, but instead to look forward.
"It's OK to dwell on the past. It's important. But what are we going to do with today and tomorrow and all the days we're given?" he said.
Fire Chief David Michaels and Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff read the names of all 20 York City Firefighters who died between April 2017 and April 2018, which included former York City Mayor Charlie Robertson and Thomas Landis Jr., who was fire chief from 1995 to 1998.
Michaels said the annual event is a way for the firefighters to remember their colleagues.
"It's something important to us that we want to continue to do," he said.
Background: Two other firefighters — Assistant Fire Chief Greg Altland and Erik Swanson — were injured in the collapse that claimed the lives of Flanscha and Anthony. They were rushed to York Hospital and survived their wounds.
Flanscha had been with the department since 1999, and Anthony had been there since 2010.
More than 4,000 people from across the country, and even Canada, attended their memorial service at the York Expo Center.
Other than Flanscha, Anthony, Robertson, and Landis, the following 16 members of the York City Fire Department were mentioned:
• Thomas F. Alwine
• Keith A. Busser
• JoAnne Borgel
• Robert F.Carpenter
• Sterling C. Dehoff
• John Dierdorff
• Philip J. Gross
• William L. Hartman
• George E. Mummert
• Ronald H. Provard
• Edward M. Roche Sr.
• Dean A. Saylor Jr.
• Frank D. Smith
• Beryl L. Stabley
• Luther N. Wallick
• John A. Welty
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.