APOPKA, FL. – Fire departments from across Central Florida, even as far as East Manatee and Palm Beach counties, were part of the procession to honor the life of firefighter Austin Duran. It was an emotional day for Apopka residents and the Apopka Fire station where Duran worked.
The young Apopka firefighter died from injuries he suffered June 30 after he was pinned down by a sand trailer he was trying to move.
“It’s a tough thing to deal with, I mean losing somebody especially somebody so young and has so much potential as a firefighter,” Debora Zielonka said.
The Apopka resident is a retired Orange County firefighter and was among the people who lined up along 441 to view the procession and pay their respects. Zielonka said she knows all too well the sacrifice first responders have to make for their communities.
“I think that you’re out there willing to give everything to help everybody is a, you know makes some people heroes,” Zielonka said.
The procession included fire engines and EMT personnel from several Florida counties. It began at the funeral home and ended with a service at Journey Christian church.
“When you put your uniform on go to the station and don’t know what’s going to happen that day and like him didn’t know he was not coming home that day,” Zielonk said.
Maggie Boone is married to a retired Orange County firefighter. The couple brought her two granddaughters.
“Every day these firefighters and first responders get up and put their boots on and go to work with the knowledge that this could be the day that they’re putting their life on the line for people in the community,” Boone said. “They may run a lot of medical calls they may run a lot of public service calls, but the bottom line is is that they’re putting their lives on the line for us.”
Duran has been described as someone with a bright smile who was passionate about his job.
“[He was] a modern day hero, as they all are,” Boone said.