Area firefighters step in to answer calls as Appleton Fire Department grieves

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) -- Firefighters from around the state traveled to Appleton on Monday to help ease the burden of those men and women at the Appleton Fire Department.

Seven departments worked together to cover shifts so that those firefighters could pay their respects to their fallen brother.

"Work goes on. Their risk stays on," said Chief Peter O'Leary with the Fond du Lac Fire Department. "They need people to continue to care for them, respond to emergencies for them. We're going to do that, and we're glad to do that actually."

More than 50 firefighters from departments across the state, Grand Chute to Milwaukee, put their gear on to take the place of Appleton firefighters as they say goodbye to Driver/Engineer Mitchell Lundgaard.

"We do know that when you're in crisis that it's all the simple things, the things that you don't think about," said O'Leary. "But, if we can take this burden away for a few hours today, for twelve hours, it's the least we can do."

"We're all really a close-knit family at the end of the day across the state," said Chief Steve Davis with the Madison Fire Department. "Many of the firefighters that are here from Madison today knew Mitch. So, it's their way to honor him and honor his memory."

The visiting firefighters tell Action 2 News that covering the shifts was not an option. It is their way of giving back to the Appleton Fire Department in their time of need, and they hope their services never have to be repaid.

"The scary part for us is the routine nature of this call in particular that we literally go on thousands of times of year," said Davis. "So, these events really hit home for all of us."

The visiting firefighters plan to stay until late on Monday night to make sure everyone gets the chance to grieve.