Chicago firefighter remembered at wake

December 27, 2010 (OAK LAWN, Ill.)

The wake for Stringer began at 3 p.m. at the Lamb Funeral Home in Oak Lawn. The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Rita of Cascia Chapel in Chicago.

Stringer and fellow firefighter Corey Ankum were killed Wednesday when a roof collapsed on them. They were searching a vacant, burned-out building to make sure there was no one inside. Seventeen other firefighters were injured.

Visitation for Ankum is Wednesday at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, and the funeral will be held Thursday at the church.

Thousands of fellow firefighters honored Stringer Monday. Many never met him, others were close friends. All, however, feel they lost a brother.

One group of firefighters came from Pittsburgh to attend the wake.

"I think every firefighter realizes when he comes on the job, that is part of the job. We have the highest death and injury rate of any occupation," said John Gourley, a retired Pittsburgh firefighter. "The fire service is a brotherhood throughout the whole country and throughout the world."

Stringer had several families -- those related by blood as well as those he worked along side in the fire department. He was also an avid motorcyclist and a member of the Axemen club. Axemen members from around the Midwest came to pay their respects.

"It is a brotherhood. One of our guys goes down, brothers from all over the country all respond," said President George Lee, Northern Illinois Axemen chapter.

Stringer, who was 47, is survived by two adult children. The 12-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department is being remembered as a firefighter who loved his job, and a friend and neighbor who always helped out and had a great sense of humor.

"It is important for his family, as well as later in the week Corey's family, to know that everybody is behind them and everybody is showing their love. It's not just a one-day process. It is forever," said Commissioner Robert Hoff, Chicago Fire Department.

"We are a very close knit group. When we experience a loss, especially a tragic loss such as this one, we rally around each other because that is our support system," said President Tom Ryan, Chicago Firefighters Union.

The loss had deeply affected many firefighters.

"It brings us closer together," said Hoff.

The owner of the building where Stringer and Ankum were killed was cited for numerous violations over the last few years. City officials are still considering whether to file charges against him. Fire department officials declined to comment on the investigation.

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