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A Tribute to San Francisco Fire Fighters

Anthony Valerio was an avid surfer, scuba diver, athlete and he liked making sour dough bread.

Vincent Perez loved restoring vintage cars and cruising them down Mission Street in his native San Francisco.

The two San Francisco fire fighters and IAFF members will be laid to rest today. IAFF General President Schaitberger is among the thousands of fire fighters, their families and friends and San Francisco citizens attending the memorial.

Perez, 48, died June 2, 2011, from burns sustained while battling a two-alarm fire. Valerio, 53, died from his burn injuries June 4, 2011.

This column penned by Michael Yaki,a former senior aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pays tributes to Valerio and Perez.

Yaki says he doesn’t understand fire fighters, but he recognizes the sacrifices you make each day to save the lives of others.

“I don't understand how people can train themselves to rush into burning buildings, into rooms filled with smoke, flame, and dubious structural integrity,” he says. “I don't understand how anyone can quell the adrenaline enough to figure out how to wind their way through a wall of flame, rescue someone, and then fight their way out again."

Yaki says thanking a fire fighter for his or her service is not enough and says he’s glad to have fire fighters and is proud of the work they do.

San Francisco Local 798 has established a Trusts Account at the San Francisco Fire Credit Union for the families of Perez and Valerio at www.sffirecu.org. Visit the Local 798 web site for more information.

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