One year later, a community remembers fallen firefighter
ABBOTSFORD (WAOW) -
The memory of Jamison Kampmeyer still lies in the hearts of those he left behind.
"It's still hard to comprehend what happened," Colby Fire Chief Ross Ranow said. "Still have your moments where you don't believe it really happened."
One year ago, a fire at the Abby Theatre in Abbotsford claimed the life of firefighter Jamison Kampmeyer.
"Our way of dealing with it is to get together and talk about it and remember the good times."
That's why friends, family, and fellow firefighters came together to remember their fallen hero. The Colby Fire Station turned into a place to share stories, laughs and even a few tears.
"We have enough memories here that will keep us going forever," Chief Ranow said.
Kampmeyer served as a volunteer firefighter with the Colby Fire Department. He was also a Marathon County Sheriff's deputy.
The fire happened on March 4, 2012. Firefighters from Abbotsford and Colby were called to the scene. Three firefighters became trapped, after the theatre's roof collapsed. Kampmeyer was one of them.
Since the fire, officials have been looking into the cause. State safety officials say the two fire departments weren't communicating well with each other to coordinate their efforts.
The reports show while Abbotsford firefighters were spraying water on the roof outside, which was already heavy with snow, Colby firefighters were inside trying to fight the fire from there.
The state found other problems with the departments, like lack of safety inspections and guidebook violations.
"A year ago we would just talk about what we would do if something big happened, but we never trained," Ranow said.
But he says now that has all changed.
"There definitely is a line of communications now."
Fire officials say the two departments have been training together on a monthly basis to try to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
"We still have way to go to get sharper but we're considerably improved."
So, one year ago friends and family said goodbye to a firefighter. But on Monday, they said hello to three. Kampmeyer's sons were named honorary firemen. And as they carry his name forever, they will now share in the job he gave his life for.
"You can never forget him," Chief Ranow said.
The spot where the Abby Theatre once sat is now a vacant lot. Fire officials say the landowner plans to keep it that way in order to preserve Kampmeyer's memory.