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Terminally ill firefighter receives one last ride home

Posted at 5:21 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 17:39:01-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Seven years ago, 7 Eyewitness News profiled a South-Line firefighter, Gus Buczek. The 54-year-old Marine veteran was putting 18-and-20 year-old-recruits to shame at firefighter boot camp.

“They looked at me, if he can do it, I can do it,” said Buczek during the interview in 2012.

The South-Line Fire Company in Cheektowaga became his second home.

A lot changed in seven years.

Tuesday morning, the firefighters that became his second family showed up to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“He'd be there for us, first thing. We're here for them,” said James Rudnicki, with the South-Line Fire Company.

The South-Line Fire Company lined a path outside the hospital’s front door, saluting him.

“It means a lot to everyone in this department. He's the one guy that you can call on to help you with anything,” added Assistant Chief Michael Altenburg.

Buczek was rolled out in a wheelchair, ready to head home. His pancreatic cancer is terminal. He will receive home and hospice care, now.

“When one of us hurts. We all hurt,” said Tim Kopp, the fire department’s chaplain.

South-Line firefighters are a family. Buczek knows that now, he knew it then.

“You got a family at home and then you got a family here,” said Buczek, seven years ago.