Westland businesses hold vigil for firefighter who died in the fire at their buildings

WESTLAND, Mich. (WXYZ) - The family of two Westland businesses organized a vigil to honor the firefighter who died battling the fire at their buildings.

"Our building can be replaced but his life can't," said Melissa Mulka. She is the granddaughter of the owners of the Electric Stick pool hall and their restaurant. Mulka organized the vigil.


"I just wanted to show his family appreciation. You know he went in there for our building, our dream," she said.

Brian Woehlke, 29, stands tall in his uniform in a picture the Wayne-Westland Fire Department shared with 7 Action News. When you see the big smile on his face, anyone could tell just how much Brian loved being a firefighter.

"Brian you know just waited and waited to get on the fire dept. He was an EMT driver for a long time. And when he finally got it he was just thrilled to death," his uncle Art Habitz told 7 Action News earlier in the day.

Habitz said the only thing Brian loved doing more than fighting fires was being a father to his 13-month-old daughter Ava, and a husband to his wife Jennifer.

"Got married about 4 years ago and they have a little one year old daughter who is priceless. He was a great father a great husband.  I just can't say anything bad about Brian.  he was just a terrific kid.  We're going to miss him all to pieces," said Habitz. 

His wife was understandably too upset to talk to the media on Wednesday.

"His wife was very adamant that she wants information passed on," said Wayne-Westland Asst. Fire Chief Rob Arbini.  He read a statement from Brian's wife Jennifer that included the following: "Brian loved going to work every day and he worked his whole life to be a firefighter.  He loved to be a Wayne-Westland firefighter."  

Brian worked between two fire departments to provide for his young family.  He first hired in at the South Redford Fire Department, and then took a second job at the Wayne-Westland Fire Department. He had been a firefighter for less than a year.

"Why does something like this happen, who knows?  The good Lord has a reason I guess, but he'll have to let me know because right now I can't figure one out," said his uncle Habitz.  "But, that's about all I can say.  He was a terrific, terrific kid.  We'll miss him a lot."

If anyone is interested in donating to Brian's family, the fire department advises people to make a check out to the Westland Firefighters Charity, PO Box 851320 Westland, MI 48185 or drop a check off to Station 1, which is located at the southwest corner of Ford Rd and Central City in Westland. 

The department will be forwarding all money to a trust that is going to be setup by the family for his daughter.


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