At St. Catharines fire stations, the meal du jour Tuesday, September 21 was Stagg chili and toast. The combination was a favourite of William Heidebrecht, the 11-year veteran of the service who was killed in a BASE jumping accident last week in Switzerland. During Heidebrecht's funeral Tuesday, St. Catharines fire Capt. Joel Chatterton, said firefighters would chow down on chili to remember their comrade.
Nearly 100 Niagara area firefighters stood at attention outside the Scott Street Mennonite Brethren Church as an honour guard when the fire truck, decorated in the dead man's firefighting gear and carrying Heidebrecht's casket, arrived. They filled the church to listen to family and friends talk about the man described as a muscular and affable family man and firefighter.
Chatterton recalled a time he was asked to help Heidebrecht prepare for a firefighter's calender by spotting him in the weight room. There he was, (bench pressing) 315 pounds. He does 10 reps of that and I asked, 'What is it you expect me to do exactly? I can't even budge that.'On photo day, just as the photographer was about to snap his picture, Heidebrecht said 'wait!' and then flexed every muscle in his body, causing the women present to gasp, 'Oh my,' Chatterton said.
After telling other funny stories about Heidebrecht, who died in a BASE jumping accident, Chatteron talked about the last blaze the firefighter attended. It was the Oct. 4 fire at 11 Oakwood Ave. Chatteron said it was a particularly bad fire, which is now under investigation by police as an arson/homicide, with flames erupting about two metres from the windows. Heidebrecht and several firefighters were inside the house when the fire got so bad they were ordered out. Normally, firefighters use a hose to guide them out when smoke and flames makes it impossible to see. But in this case, the hose was tangled up in the fire room of the house. Heidebrecht, Chatterton said, was able to see light coming from an open door, grabbed one of his fellow firefighters and hauled him out of the house before diving through the door himself.
|Will was a fire fighter in St. Catharines.|
|One of his hobbies was BASE jumping.|
|The honour guard along Scott Street.|
|The honour guard at the church.|