Fallen firefighter with local ties remembered fondly

Aaron Krause • Jan 30, 2014 at 11:33 PM

One day, people close to 1-month-old Grant Dickman will tell him about his daddy.

He will learn, as the elder Dickman's obituary states, that the 31-year-old Sandusky native died doing the job he loved -- fighting a fire for the City of Toledo.

Grant will learn about his father being "always real committed to his family," in the words of Norwalk firefighter Charles Hillman, who worked with Dickman at the Perkins Township Fire Department for several years.

Grant might hear about how, when his father and mother, Jamie, auditioned for the worship team at The Chapel, those listening in awe passed the words "gold mine" around.

Firefighting, faith and family comprised a large part of Dickman's life, said Hillman and fellow Norwalk firefighter Ben Blodgett. The latter also worked with Dickman at the Perkins department for several years.

Dickman and Stephen A. Machcinski were killed while battling an inferno at a downtown Toledo apartment complex. Machcinski, 42, was a 16-year veteran, while Dickman had served less than six months with the Toledo department. All together, Dickman was a fireman for more than a decade, Hillman said.

In addition to his wife and son, Dickman is survived by his 3-year-old daughter, Paige, as well as his parents, Greg and Linda Dickman. He also has family in the New London area.

"He was always real committed to his family," Hillman said. He added he and Dickman have daughters about the same age. Dickman would always ask how Hillman's family was doing.

Following high school graduation in 2000, Dickman attended EHOVE fire school and joined the Perkins Township Fire Department. A hard worker, he also owned and operated his own cleaning business, New Image Cleaning, for five years, and worked construction on the side.

In 2013, after graduation from the Toledo Fire Academy, Jamie was hired by the Toledo Fire Department, for which he served as a firefighter and advanced EMT.

"He was enthusiastic about everything," said Charles Conrad, director of worship at The Chapel, which has sanctuaries in Norwalk and Sandusky. "He was just an enthusiastic person but he definitely had a passion for people and music and the Lord. He loved all three of those things."

Conrad said he met Dickman about three years ago -- as long as Dickman has been part of The Chapel's worship team, for which he played electric guitar and bass guitar and his wife sung.

"It was pretty evident" from the beginning that Dickman loved Jesus and music, Conrad said.

"He loved Jesus and served God with all his heart," Conrad said.

He said he has mixed feelings about Dickman's death. There's a sense of loss and sadness, but there's also "hope and joy that he's with the Lord. I think that's an amazing thing for him.

"He is with him in heaven now and that gives us hope that we will one day be together and see him."

Blodgett said it's always hard to digest when a firefighter hears a fellow fireman killed in the line of duty. But when you know that person, "this is especially difficult," Hillman said. "It was just really unbelievable that it was him."

Hillman said such a death can increase a firefighter's awareness of the job's danger.

Dickman regularly attended training sessions outside the department that weren't required.

"He always went above and beyond to attend training session that he didn't necessarily have to make himself better," Hillman said.

"He always tried to do his best," he said, adding, "safety was his biggest priority. He always tried to do things in the safest manner as possible."

Still, Hillman said the fire in which Dickman died wasn't preventable.

"There's no way that they could have been safer," he said. "It's just an unfortunate tragedy."

Blodgett said he worked different shifts while at the Perkins department and when Dickman was working with him, he knew it would be a good day.

Blodgett said he could never remember Dickman moping around in a bad mood and could always count on his competent skills.

"I've personally lost a good friend," Conrad said.

Visitation took place Thursday at Cedar Creek Church in Perrysburg. Combined Last Alarm Services for Dickman and Machcinski also took place Thursday at The SeaGate Convention Centre in Toledo.

There will be additional calling hours for Dickman from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. today at The Chapel, 4444 Galloway Road, Sandusky, where funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Burial will follow at Oakland Cemetery, Sandusky. Arrangements are under the direction of the Walker Family Funeral Home, Toledo.

Memorials are suggested to The Dickman Family Memorial Fund, in care of any PAC Bank.

Online condolences can be expressed at walkerfuneralhomes.com.

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