BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Firefighter Jason Arno made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while battling a four-alarm fire on the 700 block on Main Street on March 1 and was laid to rest following a funeral at St. Joseph Cathedral on Friday.
A procession began at Amigone Funeral Home on Delaware Avenue and made its way through city streets before coming to an end at St. Joseph Cathedral.
Firefighters & law enforcement already beginning to line up along Franklin Street outside St. Joseph Cathedral as they await the arrival of the procession carrying fallen Buffalo Firefighter Jason Arno to church for his funeral Mass. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/nstM1FuFPP
— Eileen Buckley (@eileenwkbw) March 10, 2023
The public lined the procession route and hundreds of firefighters lined Franklin Street outside of St. Joseph Cathedral as they paid their respects to Firefighter Arno.
Sisters Shari and Camille Willis stood along Delaware Avenue with others, holding American flags. When asked why they decided to be out there Friday, Camille responded:
“To show our respect and to thank him and all firemen who are willing to run into a burning building to save people and to save our structures. We’re Buffalo strong, we’ve been through it the past year and a half, but we’re Buffalo strong so we have to stand out here to be strong for firefighters and people who serve the public.”
During the Mass, a rendition of “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls played through the church before Firefighter Arno’s brother, Delton Arno, spoke.
“There were things I’d never know without my brother. He loved this city. He knew everyone in the service industry, every building, and road. He threw parties for fantasy football and the Bills made or broke his week. We were Del and Jay and no one knew the difference. I couldn’t be more proud. After my tears are spent and my own memory languishes I will still know what he did for us. More than anything I am so thankful. No matter when or how soon he went, I would have always been thankful. Now I must close the book on so much of an unfinished story, his and ours together and the beautiful future he shared with his precious wife and precious daughter. It is my saddest day.”
Vincent Ventresca, President of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 282 Union also spoke.
“When he arrived at the firehouse just before 10 a.m. with his arms full of groceries the initial call for ringing alarms came in. Jay ran into the kitchen to drop the groceries so he could relieve the firefighter who was waiting for him. There was no way he was going to let his crew go out the door without him. Jay’s commitment to serve the people of our community, his commitment to being the best firefighter he could be, and most of all his commitment to his fellow firefighters compelled him to respond with his crew. That commitment led to Firefighter Jason Arno making the ultimate sacrifice. Sacrifice, commitment to duty, and confidence are the attributes of a true hero and of Firefighter Jason Arno.”
Arno’s former teacher, a Jesuit priest delivered the homily.
“I suspect that many of us have been asking this week, ‘how is this even possible? how is it possible that such a bright, good, young man could so suddenly and tragically be taken from us,” remarked Reverend James Van Dyke.
Rev. Van Dyke is a former teacher of Arno’s from Canisius High School and reminded everyone of the commitment Arno had to be a “man for others” every time he walked into the firehouse.
“As I heard about his commitment to service and his commitment to being a man for others, I realized how much that little guy in the first seat at the first row — one B 9 at Canisius high school had grown not just in size, stature, and smarts but how much he has grown in love,” Rev. Van Dyke recalled.
In addition, during the Mass, a representative from the International Association of Fire Fighters presented the IAFF Martin E. Pierce Commemorative Line-of-Duty Death Medal to Arno’s wife.
Outside the church, a prolific final Buffalo Fire radio call ended the service of one of Buffalo’s bravest sons.
Following the Mass, a procession went from St. Joseph Cathedral to Forest Lawn Cemetery. A group of Patriot Guard riders lined up just outside of Forest Lawn with flags saluting Arno.
Don Hayes, a Patriot Guard rider, told 7 News:
“We all know when we sign up for it, you can go in, but you don’t have to come out and unfortunately he paid that ultimate sacrifice. So, we’re here to support the family.”
Western New Yorkers who wish to support the Arno family through their time of grief can do so through any one of the many fundraising efforts currently underway.