More than 300 firefighters gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Saturday to sound the “last alarm” for Michael C. Kucsma Jr., who died of a heart attack while scuba diving Monday.
Kucsma, 43, was a captain on Engine 6 at the Portland Fire Department’s Bramhall Station and a deputy chief for the Gorham Fire Department.
Firefighters – mostly from Portland and Gorham but some from as far away as Connecticut, New York and Maryland – packed the cathedral, which was so crowded that some remained standing throughout the 1½-hour service.
Kucsma’s flag-draped casket was brought to the cathedral on top of Engine 6, which followed a Gorham firetruck.
During the funeral, Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre described Kucsma as a dedicated firefighter and leader. He said firefighters should honor him by passing on his “knowledge and skills to others ” and living “life to the fullest extent.”
His wife, Marcia Kucsma, said her husband was a gregarious man who loved life, and she urged his friends to follow his example and “laugh, love, eat, drink and be merry.”
Kucsma could make friends with anybody and loved to bring people together, said a longtime friend, Lt. Raymond Smith of the Portland Fire Department. Smith told several humorous stories about Kucsma, who often vacationed in the Caribbean and was a connoisseur of rum.
“What a great day to celebrate Mike Kucsma,” he said. “The only things missing are beach sand, a palm tree, a rum drink, and, of course, Mike.”
At the end of the service, five bells were rung three times. Then John Brooks, president of the Portland Firefighters Union Local 740, made the “last alarm,” a radio call that was broadcast on the firefighters’ radio channel in both Portland and Gorham.
As the casket was carried outside and placed again on Engine 6, Kucsma’s brother and sister, Christopher and Sarah Kucsma, followed behind, solemnly carrying two helmets, one from the Portland Fire Department and one from the Gorham Fire Department.
Engine 6 brought Kucsma’s body to Gorham for burial at the White Rock Cemetery.
Kucsma, who lived in Buxton, was scuba diving with friends off the shore near Tukey’s Bridge in Portland last Monday when he suffered the heart attack.
He worked full time for the Portland Fire Department and was a volunteer member of the Gorham Fire Department, which he served for 28 years.