Indiana Firefighter Remembered

Updated: 11-16-2005 09:20:43 AM

The Associated Press
via Knight Ridder

Loraine: Fighting fires was family business

In a career spanning more than 20 years, Tom Loraine influenced generations of firefighters.

His father was a firefighter, Loraine was a firefighter, and his son, Matt Loraine, is a Fort Wayne Fire Department captain.

?He was on the department when I was born in 1966,? Matt Loraine said. ?Clearly my father liked what he did. It?s something he loved.?

Although Tom Loraine died Sunday after battling lung and brain cancer, he leaves behind a legacy of leadership and commitment to the community.

In September 1965, he was hired by the Fort Wayne Fire Department as a probationary fireman and fought his first fire that Sept. 4. He became the department?s deputy chief in March 1978 and served a brief stint as chief from July 1979 to January 1980. In 1980, he became the assistant chief and was in charge of labor relations. By January 1985 he was an Indiana Fire Marshal focusing on prevention, public education and labor relations.

He retired from the fire department in September 1985, and in January 1988 he began serving as a trustee on the fire pension fund board.

Loraine was diagnosed Feb. 20, 2005, with cancer, but continued to fight the disease by participating in a drug trial and radiation therapy.

?He?s never been a quitter,? Matt Loraine said. ?He never allowed me to have any excuses. Even if I broke my leg it wasn?t an excuse. Probably the best thing he?s given me is the fact that I have to stand on my own two feet.?

He called firefighting a family business and a brotherhood.

Ab Crosby is one of the ?brothers.? Crosby met Tom Loraine more than 30 years ago. Then both men became firefighters.

?When I got on the fire department in 1981, he was an assistant chief,? Crosby said. ?He?s always been the go-to guy when I need to find out what to do.?

He said Loraine would help anyone ? whether male, female, or a minority.

?He wanted to make a better department and help people,? he said.

Alan Such worked with Loraine at the fire department and was his partner in a fireworks business.

?I started with the fire department in 1963 and within a year he came on,? Such said. ?We just kind of hit it off and have been friends ever since.?

For Such, it was an unexpected friendship.

?He was a Republican and I was a Democrat. He was a Catholic and I was a Lutheran,? he said. ?I would think we wouldn?t have a lot of common denominators.?

But they did have a common firehouse bond

?You work hard and you play hard,? Such said. ?When the alarm went off, we did our job and sometimes when we were just around the station we got on each other?s nerves.?

Visitation will be from 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at D.O. McCombs Lakeside chapel, 1140 Lake Ave. A prayer vigil will be at 7:30 p.m. A Mass will be at 11 a.m. Thursday after a viewing from 10 to 11 a.m. at St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, 8669 Auburn Road. Burial will be at Catholic Cemetery, 3500 Lake Ave.

There will be a gathering after the service at St. Joe Township community room on Maplecrest Road north of St. Joe Center Road.
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