BENSALEM, Pa.(WTXF) - Firefighters at Union Fire Company- Station 37, visited with a long-time friend and fellow firefighter now fighting the battle of his life.
They piled into their firetrucks and pulled into Nazareth Hospital, to spend some time, with 58-year-old Tony Byrne.
"These guys are his family, you now? I'm his son but these guys are his family. He spends 80 hours a week here-- he's-- he was here all the time. All the guys always ask about him." Said Tony's son Anthony Byrne.
Anthony says Tony beat the lung cancer that was diagnosed a decade ago. Unfortunately, it's back with a vengeance. It's spread throughout his body and is causing heart problems as well. Tony was a key leader of these volunteers for a very long time.
"When that bell rings and he's ready to go for a fire call, he hops in the truck. He drives. And everyone just knows that, if Tony's driving, we're good. We're getting there. We're getting there safe and we're gonna do the job," said Anthony.
About two dozen firefighters paid a visit on Thursday night filing into Tony's room in shifts, a few at a time. Among the visitors was the Station 37 fire chief and Byrne's friend of 40 years, Ken Hopkins, junior.
"He's my go-to guy," said Hopkins. "He's like a Timex. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I'm not a sentimental guy but, it just bugs me."
His son says dad hasn't lost his fighting spirit.
Anthony said, "The nurses were telling him, 'you have to have courage. You have to have courage.' He looks at them and says, 'I've been a fireman 38 years, don't talk to ME about courage!'"
Given his dire condition, Tony Byrne has voluntarily taken himself 'out of commission.' However, if he should, once again, beat the odds and come back, the firefighters at the station will welcome him with open arms.
And if he never returns to service?
Well, as his comrades left the hospital and spilled into the brisk October night, chief Hopkins sounded confident they had sent the message they came to deliver:
"We won't forget you, man. We're not forgetting about you," said Hopkins.