Fallen Heroes: Remembering Robin Broxterman and Brian Schira

Capt. Robin Broxterman and Brian Schira
Capt. Robin Broxterman and Brian Schira
This was the scene outside St. Peter In Chains Cathedral as the caskets for Robin and Brian arrived for the funeral mass.
This was the scene outside St. Peter In Chains Cathedral as the caskets for Robin and Brian arrived for the funeral mass.
A memorial outside the Colerain Fire Station honoring Broxterman and Schira keeps growing
A memorial outside the Colerain Fire Station honoring Broxterman and Schira keeps growing
This home on Squirrelsnest Lane caught fire the morning of Friday, April 4
This home on Squirrelsnest Lane caught fire the morning of Friday, April 4


Update, Wednesday, April 9:

Thousands of people lined the streets while firefighters and family members marched in the funeral procession Wednesday for Capt. Robin Broxterman, 37, and firefighter Brian Schira, 29.

Like all firefighters, Capt. Broxterman and Firefighter Schira had to have a special devotion to their jobs and all people, said Doug Cline, fire chief of the Eden, N.C., fire department.

"Robin and Brian had that ultimate passion of love for everyone, for everyone who came in contact with them," he said.

Cline closed his remarks by saying simply: "Firefighters - job well done."

Colerain and Cincinnati fire department ladder trucks formed an arch near the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral for the procession and the fire trucks carrying the two caskets to pass under.

The bells of the cathedral tolled and bagpipers played as the caskets were lowered from the firetrucks and slowly carried inside.

The cathedral accommodates about 900 people, a fraction of the number left outside. Several hundred crowded into the undercroft beneath the church to listen to the service.

Retired chief Ernie McCowen of the suburban Lincoln Heights fire department said the show of support was a way to pay tribute to the firefighters and their families.

"It doesn't happen often, but when it does we want to come out and show our appreciation that they paid the ultimate sacrifice," McCowen said.

"We're a close-knit community, almost fraternal," he said. "It means a lot with the war going on and the economy for so many people to come from all over the United States and from other countries."

Tunja Leisure, 36, of Cincinnati, said she saw fire trucks and firefighters congregating near the cathedral and felt she had to stop.

"The tears just instantly came to my eyes, and I was so moved I just had to come," she said.

Leisure said she would not go to the funeral.

"I don't think that's really my space, but I thought by coming here I could show how much I appreciate what firemen do every day," she said.

Luv Madina, 29, of Cincinnati, said she arrived about 8:30 a.m., more than two hours before the procession arrived downtown under overcast skies.

"There was really nothing I could do other than come here and show my respect for what they are doing," she said. "They work every day to save our lives."

After the funeral Mass, the procession returned to Cincinnati's west side neighborhood to Spring Grove Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, for burial.

"The greatest honor you can have in the world is to show unselfish love for your fellow brothers and sisters," State Fire Marshal Michael Bell told mourners at the cemetery service. "Today we honor these firefighters for their unselfish love."

Bells tolled for the firefighters in a tribute to their service, a bugler played "Taps" and the strains of "Amazing Grace" from bagpipers were heard one last time before the public ceremonies ended.

Update, Wednesday, April 9:

Thousands waited in line for hours on Tuesday to pay their respects to the families of Robin Broxterman and Brian Schira.

The line at their visitation wrapped around the building at Glen Mooney Funeral Home, while everyone waited patiently to for a moment with the families of these brave people.

He was their brother, she was their sister. They were family.

"They're a part of your family just as a guy in Oklahoma or Cincinnati is part of my family it's a brotherhood, a sisterhood that's what helps you sleep at night," said fellow firefighter Mark Roberts of Perry Township, Ind.

The loss of Schira and Broxterman has shaken the city's, the Tri-state's, the country's bravest.

"Under normal circumstances we say be safe and in this past week it has turned into stand strong," said firefighter Robb Bittner of Springfield Township.

"They're running in when everyone else is running out and they do their job so well we tend to forget how dangerous it is," added Jim Reuter.

"We love each other like brothers, hate each other like brothers sometimes, and when something like this happens, like what happened on Friday, we come together," said Capt. Steve Conn with the Colerain Township Fire Dept.

And together, they put their lives on the line, for a job that never stops.

Update, Tuesday, April 8: Hundreds of people packed Colerain High School Cardinal Stadium Monday night to honor two fallen firefighters.

The ceremony included bagpipes and singing.

You can view raw video from the vigil by clicking the video link on the right.

Update, Monday, April 7: The Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office has ruled the caused of the fire on Squirrelsnest Lane as accidental.

They believe the fire began in the basement and was electrical in nature.

The investigation has now been handed over to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Colerain fire Chief Bruce Smith said it could be a month before investigators issue a preliminary report on what happened.

Update, Monday, April 7: During a news conference Monday morning, Robin Broxterman's mother, Arlene Zang expressed her appreciation for the community's support following the tragic death of her daughter.

Zang, a retired firefighter, also said she is grateful one of her daughter's friends escaped the burning home. Deputy Fire Chief Joe Silvati confirmed that one firefighter escaped but declined to release his name.

Zang visited the scene just hours after the blaze on Friday.

"I wanted to see where my daughter died. I wanted to see the conditions," Zang said. "Being a firefighter I wanted to look at the beams, look at the walls."

Zang said her daughter, a mother of two, planned to graduate in June with a bachelor's degree in fire science administration from the University of Cincinnati.

"She had one more course to go," she said.

In the fall, Zang said, Broxterman planned to marry Don Patterson, a fellow firefighter.

A family friend of Brian Schira also read a statement from the family and expressed gratitude to the community.

The entire statement of the families are available by clicking the video links on the right.

The procession route for the visitation has also been released. The route is available by clicking here.

Update: Services have been announced for Capt. Robin Broxterman, 37, and firefighter Brian Schira, 29,  who died in the line of duty in Colerain Township.

A public visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday for both victims at Gwen Mooney Funeral Home at 4389 Spring Grove Ave.

A burial Mass is planned for Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. at Saint Peter in Chains in Downtown Cincinnati.

Burial will follow at Spring Grove Cemetery.

A candlelight vigil will also be held Monday night at Colerain High School Cardinal Stadium from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

The families of Broxterman and Schira are expected to release a statement on Monday. FOX19.com will have the latest information for you.


Two firefighters have died in a house fire in Colerain Township.

Capt. Robin Broxterman was the first female to reach the rank of Captain for the Colerain Township Fire Dept. She was a 17 year veteran of the department. She is survived by two daughters, her parents and her fiance, who is also a firefighter.

Brian Schira was hired in Colerain Township in 2007. He has also been a member of the Delhi Fire Department. He is survived by his parents.

Flames broke out just after 6 a.m. at a home in the 5700 block of Squirrelsnest Lane. The first firefighters on the scene from the Colerain Fire Department believed there were people still inside, so they went in.

Investigators say there was a "catostrophic stuctural failure" in the home and the two firefighters fell and got trapped. Supervisors were unable to make contact with the firefighters and issued a distress call. The Rapid Assistance Team, which specializes in firefighter safety, was called in. Fire Captain Steve Conn says that around 7:10 a.m., their bodies were found in the basement of the two-story, four bedroom house.

The two occupants of the home got out safely. Investigators say they escaped before firefighters arrived.

According to Conn, firefighters usually make the automatic assumption that people could still be inside because of the early hour and go in to search while trying to extinguish the blaze.

The last time a Colerain Township firefighter died in the line of duty was 1977, Conn said. State fire marshal spokesman Shane Cartmill said these were the first firefighter deaths this year in Ohio, where five died last year and three in 2006.

FOX19.com staff with information from The Associated Press