RIVERVIEW, Fla. — A Hillsborough County firefighter who died in the line of duty will be honored with a 23.5 mile procession through much of the county Wednesday ahead of his funeral.
Giovanni Ciancio, 55, was a driver-engineer for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and had served with the county for more than 19 years. He most recently worked at Station 15 in Palm River.
Ciancio, from Italy, immigrated to the United States in his twenties and became an American citizen.
Battalion Chief David Bute describes Ciancio as a firefighter to the core.
“Giovanni was a terrific firefighter. He was a proud firefighter. That was one of the things that his wife, Francesca, talked about — how proud he was to be a firefighter. He wanted to be part of the brotherhood here of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue," said Bute.
Ciancio died from COVID-19 complications on Oct. 21, and because the county believes he contracted the virus while on the job in July, his death is considered a “line of duty death.”
That’s part of the reason the county is honoring him with the elaborate funeral procession Wednesday from Riverview to the northeast Tampa area.
“We want to be able to honor him in a public way. That’s the most important thing. We want him to realize that, by honoring him in a public way, that it is something that we feel like he was entitled to because he gave his life in the line of duty," said Bute.
Bute hopes community members will line the procession route to pay their respects to the fallen firefighter.
The procession will depart from the Love First Christian Center in Riverview around 9 a.m. and go from Balm Riverview Road to Big Bend Road, Big Bend to U.S. 301, and north on U.S. 301 to Sligh Avenue, where it’ll end at Riverhills Church of God.
According to Hillsborough County, Chief Bute doesn’t know if Ciancio was vaccinated, but in a Tuesday afternoon news conference, the battalion chief said he hopes the unfortunate death will serve as a wake-up call about the risk COVID-19 poses to firefighters.