Fallen Pennsylvania Firefighter Remembered

Funeral services were held Thursday morning for fallen Washington firefighter Jeremy LaBella.

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LaBella, 27, of Washington, died Sunday when a porch roof collapsed on top of him and another firefighter.

The Allison Avenue home was full of propane tanks, some of which exploded.

Members of more than 200 fire departments from around the country rolled their trucks through downtown Washington, honoring the LaBella.

"It helps us realize that we may not come home to our friends and family after the tour of duty or the call, and it makes you aware of how dangerous our job really is," said John Simpson, of the Osceola Fire Department in Florida.

"It's very important to me, because my father and grandfather were volunteer firefighters," said Washington resident Bethany Hatalsky.

"We understand that and our families, they may not like it, but they understand that," said Jerry Coleman of the Washington Fire Department. "It's the profession we chose, and we're trying to do the best with the calling we chose."

Thursday's funeral service was followed by a procession.

LaBella started his firefighting career when he was 14 as a junior firefighter.

For 13 years, he served as a volunteer.

Washington Mayor Ken Westcott said LaBella was the first city firefighter to die in the line of duty since 1955. He had only been on the job for a few months.

LaBella also worked for the Canton Township Volunteer Fire Company.

"As soon as I found out about it, it was a sick feeling and terribly sad," said firefighter Joe Manning. "He was so young."

Medics transported Labella's partner, George McMullen, who was also trapped under the roof, to a local hospital.

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