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Westport Honors Fallen Area Firefighters

Helmets of area firefighters who died in the line of duty since 1894 lined the alter of Westport's Assumption Church Tuesday night during the 28th annual Bridgeport Area Retired Firefighters ceremony.

One by one, the names of the 35 firefighters who lost their lives -- including Bridgeport firefighters Lt. Steven Velasquez and Michel Baik, who died battling a fire last July -- were read off as their helmets were placed on the alter by fellow firefighters. A bell was rung after every name.

The ceremony, which honors firefighters from Bridgeport, Stratford, Trumbull, Fairfield and Westport , also paid tribute to 24 firefighters who recently passed away.

"We must learn the lessons of the past or else the name of those who've fallen would have been lost in vain," Westport Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury said during the service.

The ceremony began with a short parade along Riverside Avenue where the Connecticut Firefighters Pipes & Drums band, and dozens of on-duty and retired firefighters marched. It ended with the sounding of a bell.

"There's no greater love than to die for one another," Rev. ThomasThorne said during the ceremony.

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