Funeral For Fallen Firefighters Draws Thousands To San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Thousands gathered Friday afternoon in San Francisco where a funeral honored two firefighters who died fighting a blaze in the city’s Diamond Heights neighborhood last week.

Family, friends and firefighters from around the country were attending the services for Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53.

The pair died of injuries they suffered while battling a fire at a home at 133 Berkeley Way on June 2. Perez died later that day and Valerio succumbed to his injuries on Saturday morning.

A vigil was held for the two men Thursday night at St. Mary’s Cathedral, the site of Friday’s funeral.

After the funeral, the men were taken to the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma for burial.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Streets closed around the city to make way for the funeral and procession to the cemetery.

The brought firefighters from around the country who came to mourn their colleagues.

Matt Vaitiskis, a firefighter from Boston, said, “This is what we do. They would do it for me, the brotherhood transcends nations.”

>> Photo Gallery: Firemen Killed In San Francisco Blaze

Tim O’Brien, a firefighter from Chicago, said last year two firefighters died in a building collapse in their city, and firefighters from San Francisco came out for that funeral.

“You’re looking at all my brothers,” O’Brien said. “We live together, eat meals, cook together, scrub floors, and at the end of the day we might walk into a very bad situation together.”

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Mayor Ed Lee, and Bill Storti, the captain of Fire Station 26 where the two men worked, were among the speakers at the funeral.

Perez and Valerio were badly burned when objects in a room of the house apparently heated to the point of ignition, a dangerous phenomenon known as a “flashover,” SFFD Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

A female firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns.

She was treated at the hospital and released later that day.

Talmadge said the initial fire that day appeared to have been sparked by something electrical, but its exact cause remained under investigation.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

  • Primetime Editorials

    God Bless America
    I am praying that the family finds closure

  • OH GOD


  • Bloodhounds

    I’m so sorry for the families. Unfortunately it comes with the job. It’s a dangerous job and these people risk their lives every day for the safety of others. RIP firefighters. God Bless you all.

  • meneve

    allen martin–how can you forget so quickly the murder of the 4 OPD officers only a few years ago and their funeral service? you said today’s scene hasn’t been witnessed “for decades and decades”. please be more careful with your “reporting” comments.

  • Bob

    Let the families and friends grieve together, but not at the taxpayer’s expense. This is just politics and PR, and it costs the city and the companies that try to do business in the city millions to shut down the city for hours.

  • Tony

    Thousands came, not because tax dollars paid for the to, but because they WANTED to… for heavens sake… what is wrong with you unfeeling mongrels?! Firemen came from around the nation, not for PR, but to pay respect to their fallen brothers. It isn’t “PR” you dunce… it’s respect, brotherhood and compassion for the families… something you apparently know nothing about. What the hell is wrong with you?!!!

    • John

      Thank you Tony for your common sense amidst all this vitriol

      I also was there , and I wasn’t paid either.

  • You are all idiots

    For those of you who feel this is a waste of tax dollars, I suggest you get yourselves voted into office and then make changes.

    “Unfortunately it comes with the job.” – Yes, this risk does go with the job of public safety employees. The same ones all you idiots claim make too much money. If you had half a brain and would educate yourselves on the truth of the so-called pension problem you would know it is the fault of the politicians and people running the retirement systems for not investing the required monies up front. They have continuously been underfunded because they wanted to use the money elsewhere. If this impacted your commute, that is too bad. Go get some Starbucks and STFU!

  • Tony

    furthermore… did you ever think these men’s children might be reading your insensitive remarks? These families are comforted by this turnout of firefighters from around the nation who PAID THEIR OWN airfare, lodging… EVERYTHING to be there. Meanwhile… some putz who knows neither respect or compassion is making anonymous cowardly remarks on a news blog, because he thinks someone took 1 cent out of his pocket today… that’s right… he’s PO’d because he “thinks” he might have paid penny to honor 2 men who died protecting his community. The irony… is the whiner probably doesn’t even live in the mourning city.

  • Leon

    Why would you use a clip from another crime scene that happen at a San Jose Mc doanlds a month or so ago, with a different Mc Donalds story from today?.

  • WASP

    What a shameful waste of tax dollars

  • Boris

    If any of you whiners actually live in the city, put your address out there so the firefighters and police won’t have to come to your place when you need them most.

    Oh, that won’t work because they’re dedicated and faithful to their duties and will risk their lives to save your sorry butts, which is apparently more than you’d do.

    I’m sure I’ve crossed paths with both of these heroes, and only regret that I never took the time to thank them for what they do every day.

    Every time I’ve seen paramedics who’ve helped us or our neighbors, I make a point to thank them and they act like it’s another day at the office, and thank me back.

    Rest in peace, there are more left behind here who will miss you, than are complaining.

    Thank You, again for all that you were and what you did.

  • tony

    Soma… if anyone will never be a hero… believe me… it’s you. Enjoy your bitter little world

  • Chavon

    What is wrong with you people? Obviously you weren’t raised to have any respect for yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t downplay the huge sacrifice these two men gave to our community! I don’t give a hoot how much this cost, how can you put a price on two lives? Anyone who feels that their tax dollars have been used fraudulently is a low class, self loather who can’t put anything that happens into any other terms other than how it supposedly “affects” them. Give me a huge break, I wish more money was spent, more respect given, and more love shown to our service people. It’s because of money grubbing nay sayers like yourselves that service positions have gone from places of honor and respect, to people to mock and make fun of.

    I pray you never have need of these true heroes and protectors of our city, for you are not worth whatever it “costs” to send them to whatever rathole you dwell in.
    P.S. Please get yourselves sterilized, its frightening to think that your kind is allowed to breed at will.

    RIP to all those who have willingly given up their lives to protect us all, even the disrespectful trash that have the stomach to put a price tag on their lives.

  • chris

    truly written by a overpaid fireman get out the heat if you can not handled it

  • Tony

    Chris… speaking of “written” you should really learn how to “write”. Are you from another country? Some foreigner complaining about what our firemen are paid?

  • Rhonda Leabo

    You know, I am really saddened how people complain about tax dollars and inconvenince. I wonder if you would feel differently if it was your father, brother or son? Have some friggin compassion people. We forget, myself included, that police and fire go into dangerous situations everyday risking their lives for strangers. I would never want to walk a single minute in these negative people’s shoes. You are so missing the point. You do not see the beauty of service, sacrifice, and most of all compassion.. That is just no way to go through life. Good luck with that.

  • Rudy Rodriguez

    I am not trying to dishonor the deaths of these firefighters but who is footing the bill for this whole thing?

  • Chris Glover

    Several months ago I watched as a young boy stared in awe as Firefighters from Engine 55 in Irvine California loaded freshly purchased groceries into their rig. I was reminded of the magic I felt as a young child myself when I would run to the front window of my house when I heard the crescendo of sirens coming down the street. For a brief moment I would catch a glimpse of real life super heroes racing off to save a life, a house or maybe a cat stuck in a tree. After loading my own groceries I looked up again to see a fireman climb back down the rig and put a plastic fire hat on the young boy whose eyes grew wide with excitement. I’d like to believe it was a channeled sense of joy at seeing the happiness on a young child’s face or perhaps my youthful sentiments of running toward the window to watch an engine or truck race by and not the sad realization that many in society have lost appreciation for the men and women in uniform that brought mist to my eyes that day. If you honestly have nothing positive to say in remembrance of our fallen heroes perhaps alt-f4 would the best thing for you to do instead of posting here. God speed Vincent and Anthony.

  • Muhammed

    6,000+ dead GIs…..every one of them was as good or better than the fat, bloated, over-paid pukes at the fire house…so, where their taxpayer-funded parade of 700+ Gov’t vehicles…700+

  • Igus

    Does some dead fireman or cop really warrant this sort of fanfair?

    Like Muhhamed wrote, over 6,000 soldiers and Marines have died in Obama’s 4 wars now….where was their parade?

    • Dirka Dirka

      Obviously you’ve never attended any funerals for service people. If you had you would not have made your idiotic statement.

  • andrea3000

    A nice video to pay tribute to the fallen heroes..

  • Tony

    Igus… do they warrant this sort of fanfair? Yeah… they do.

  • ptown

    I agree with Muhammed. this kind of fanfare for overpaid workers doing what people do for free in most communities (volunteers) isnt right. The FF were doing thier job. I dont see this kind of fanfair for hard working construction workers who are killed every day just doing thier jobs.

    I am so sorry for the families of the fallen men..I cant imagine the sorrow.

    • tony

      these hard working construction workers don’t often lose their lives trying to rescue others or save the property of their communties ptown… And though I personally have great respect for the role and job these construction workers perform… what a lame analogy. A vast majority of the community wants to honor their firefighters ptown. They recognize that these firefighters role is saving others, or saving their property. They were out on the streets in San Francisco doing so on Friday. It’s ironic that you express being sorry for the families of these fallen men… while in the same post you completely dismiss these men’s deaths and the honor paid them. You don’t even have the insight to see the contradiction in your statement..

      • Dirka Dirka

        You used words that were way too big for PTOWN to understand. He will not take the effort to learn there meaning.

  • Dan

    As a firefighter I am ashamed to read these comments. fat, bloated, over-paid pukes at the fire house, muhammad please do us all a favor and post your address you ungrateful SOB. Your a shame. We risk our lives 24/7 so you can be able to see your families and this is how you repay us. And for those complaining about the money, when your love one passed away and you got a police car to escort you to the cemetary, yeah thats taxpayer money also.

  • Ken Riley

    Firefighters spend 95% of the time on the job either sleeping, watching tv, playing video games or going to the grocery store in the big trucks. Nobody forced them to apply for the job. People need to stop putting FF’s on a pedestal and stop worshipping them. Military service people, Electricians, Welders, Pilots and others also perform life critical jobs for the good of America. Try honoring all professions that support America. Not just the overpaid, pension stealing, lazy UNION FF’s.

    • Chris Glover

      Ken Riley, do not attempt to speak toward facts which you know not. First Firefighters spend hours training; conditioning and preparing for every type of alarm they may receive. They spend days at a time away from their families waiting at the ready to serve us.
      You seem to indicate that those of us honoring these men do not share the same level of respect for servicemen and women in the Military… When was the last time you bought a meal for a man or woman in uniform, when was the last time you stopped to shake their hand? I can assure you those of us who understand why we celebrate these fallen heroes do stop to give thanks. Additionally, as was the case here, do you know many local police and firefighters are retired/reserve military? No I suppose you don’t.
      As for the other many skilled and unsung heroes of the American backbone I suggest you look up a recent Senate Testimony by Mike Rowe as he discusses the current and future shortfall of skilled labor; although, I am sure like many others you will just troll to the next post making up random facts and spreading your bitterness.
      Shameful behavior for an American.

      • BOB

        If Kens house catches on fire, let it burn down then tell him the FF’s were to busy watching TV and eating SLOPPY JOE’s to help his ignorant A$$.

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