A Buffalo firefighter has been killed while serving as a soldier in Iraq, city fire officials announced today, as they ordered the flags at all Buffalo firehouses flown at half-staff.
Firefighter Christopher W. Dill, 32, who lived in the Town of Tonawanda and worked out of Engine 21 at Jefferson Avenue and Kingsley Street, was killed in Iraq, his family and fire officials confirmed late this morning. He has been a firefighter since April 1998.
Dill's family was waiting to hear more details today about how he was killed. A member of the 98th Division of the Army Reserves, Dill was part of a Mobile Training Team that helped train Iraqi soldiers. Family members have been told he was killed Monday.
The loss hit doubly hard in the city's tightly knit Fire Department. Firefighter Dill's father is William E. Dill, the universally respected fire lieutenant who headed the Fire Investigation Bureau before retiring in 2002.
"I, too, am a second-generation firefighter, so I felt an extra bond with Chris," Fire Commissioner Michael L. D'Orazio said. "I knew how proud my dad was when I became a member of the department, and I'm sure Bill felt the same way."
Those who worked with both Dills hailed the younger man as a hero, both as a soldier and a firefighter.
"I worked for Lt. Dill for several years, I personally knew Chris and attended his wedding," Fire Marshal James O'Neill said today. "What a fine young man, an exemplary firefighter."
Lt. Garnell Smith worked directly with Firefighter Dill and succeeded the elder Dill in leading the Fire Investigation Unit.
"He was a fine recruit and a chip off the old block, just like his father," Smith said of the fallen soldier.
Fire officials announced Dill's death in a brief address to firefighters over the fire radio this morning, ordering all firehouse flags lowered to half-staff.
Dill's death has not been announced by the Department of Defense, and no other information was available about the incident in which he was killed.