Baumhower: Two Months and Two Lives Gone

Today marks the two month “anniversary” of the loss of TFD’s Steve Machinski and Jamie Dickman. What an awful use of the word anniversary, but it is the one writers use to mark both the good and bad events.



I spoke with Jamie Dickman’s sister, Libby Cheney, on Monday and got a little peek of the Dickmans before and after this horrific moment.


Libby expressed how grateful the family was for the outpouring of support and love from the TFD, TPD, the Mayor’s office, Chief Santiago, the Local 92 and the list went on. I asked her how the family was doing and she gave the answer you would expect to hear; not great, but dealing.

Libby confirmed that it was Jamie’s 3 year-old daughter, Paige, who was wearing the vivid red dress during the Last Alarm service. Paige is taking her father’s loss the toughest as he was her “best friend”.

Jamie’s 4-week old son, Grant, is starting to sleep better during the night, what things Jamie has missed since that Sunday afternoon.

Jamie’s 32nd birthday would be April 11th and Libby indicated the family was planning something special for that day, something bigger. (The Toledo Free Press will be sharing more of the Dickmans’ lives since Jamie’s passing in an upcoming issue.)

In our conversation I shared an idea to Libby as a way to be proactive during their mourning and healing process. I made her aware of the last 4- 5 years and the random but frequent arsons that had been taking place in our poorer neighborhoods. I suggested that her family become the face of what arson can do, the damage it could leave behind and the lives that it can forever change.

It was only a matter of time before something bad like this happened, we all knew it was more than a possibility, we were just waiting for the day it did. That day was two months ago.

Two lives lost, two families forever shattered, hundreds of hearts broken and for what? How much money would that insurance check have been if no one ever found out and no one got hurt? The alleged arsonist is lucky that he isn’t facing 10 murder charges, as we all have learned the buildings had residents inside during the time the fire was set.

Will this awful incident in Toledo’s history and the loss of two firefighter’s lives be the moment where we stop buring the vacant house next door?

God, I hope so.

I don’t want to witness another beautiful child in a red dress surrounded by crying men and women, all because someone wanted to make a quick buck or “improve” the neighborhood. No more fires… this city can’t take another.


Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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Posted in Column, Toledo
One comment on “Baumhower: Two Months and Two Lives Gone
  1. Angie DeWitt says:

    I have worked for TFD for almost 22 years, the majority spent working in the inner city. It’s rare that a structure fire is NOT arson. I would love to see a public service campaign aimed at addressing this issue. I have seen many occupied homes damaged or destroyed because the adjacent structure was set by an arsonist, not to mention the “close calls” every firefighter I know has experienced fighting these fires. The city has done a decent job tearing down these vacant homes but there are just too many in the central city to address. Possibly raising awareness, changing public attitudes toward these crimes would help. It’s not just another eyesore that’s being destroyed, it could be that beloved family member who has lived next door for 30 years or the family of the firefighter called to fight those fires who lose everything.


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Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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