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  1. #1
    Firehouse.com Editor
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    Mar 2009

    Default Remember the Worcester Six - 10 Years Later

    This week marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic fire that took place at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse in Massachusetts. Worcester Box 1438 was struck at 6:13 p.m. and before crews would return to their stations, six brothers were lost. Over 30,000 firefighters attended a memorial service at the Worcester Centrum while firefighters continued to search for the Worcester 6. It took eight days to recover the remains of Lt. Thomas E. Spencer, James F. Lyons, Paul A. Brotherton, Jeremiah M. Lucey, Timothy P. Jackson and Joseph T. McGuirk.

    Share your memories of this tragic night with Firehouse.com. Where were you when your first heard about the fire? Were you called to the scene? Did you attend the memorial and how far did you travel? Have you attended one of the presentations on the Worcester Cold Storage fire? How did this fire impact you and your department?

    Let's pause this week to remember the Worcester 6 and stop and say a prayer for their families and fellow firefighters at 6:13 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2009.

  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    I was at home and on the computer when my fire buff network pager went off; the page stated a working fire at the Worcester Cold Storage Building.

    Updates came as the 2nd and 3rd alarms were struck... then the updates turned ominous.. 2 members missing, then 4, then 6....

    I went to the scene of the fire on December 5th and saw my friends and Brothers from the Worcester Fire Department working in silence, tears streaming from their faces as they searched the ashes of he Cld Storage building looking for their comrades.

    Everyone from my Department with the exception of the on duty personnel went to the Memorial Service.

    I remember walking to the Centrum, the people of Worcester standing on the sides of the streets in silence, some of them holding signs saying "Thank You" and "God Bless our Firefighters"... a sea of dress blue uniforms ten abreast and stretching for as far as one could see.... firefighters and apparatus from all over Massachusetts covering the City of Worcester as part of the statewide mobilization plan while their Brothers from Worcester grieved and searched for their fallen Brothers.

    I remember the helicopters from the State Police and Life Flight flying overhead, one of the helos peeling off to form the missing man formation...

    We were fortunate enough to get seated in the Centrum.. thousands of others went to the fire site or watched the ceremony outside on the Jumbotrons.

    In 2000, I and 5 of my Brothers went to the IAFF Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony in Colorado Springs to honor our Brothers from Worcester and all the fallen heroes from the US and Canada.

    We must never forget their sacrifices, and we must instill the honor of their sacrifices in the next and subsequent generation of firefighters.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 12-02-2009 at 05:17 PM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
    Forum Member
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    Aug 2006


    Gonzo is right. I remember hearing of the fire. It was my first week on the department. While I didn't know any of the fireman I was feel great grief for those who worked with them and their families.

    While we respond primarily to single family fires, the lessons of that fire always make me ask "What's next"?

  4. #4
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Jun 2001
    Bridgton,Me USA


    We had just come off a chimney job as I remember. We grieve on the date today just as we did in 99. We sent a contingent for the ceremony and stood outside watching on the telemonitors. I vowed then to take the lessons learned from this black terrible day and apply them to our operational plan.And teach the future generations the dangers of the job and the value of a fire officer like Mike Mcnamee. If it were not for Chief Mcnamee,certainly others would have been lost. Continue to educate those around you and NEVER let the sacrifices of the six and all others who have made the ultimate sacrifice be lost. T.C.

  5. #5
    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    May 2005


    This was before my time in the fire service, but I as well as all of today and tomorrow's firefighters can learn from this incident.

    RIP Brothers.
    Career Firefighter
    Volunteer Captain

    -Professional in Either Role-

    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Editor
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    Mar 2009


    Firehouse.com's Complete Coverage of the 10th Anniversary. http://www.firehouse.com/worcester-anniversary Firehouse.com has a team in Worcester, stay tuned as we add photos, stories and videos from Worcester.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2009


    I was 20, and in school at the time for my Fire Science Degree. I remember going to Worcester, I didnít cry until they played taps. I remember going under the bridge, and everyone talking, because we had been silent the whole time, then emerging and silence again.

    Keokuk, Iowa had the triple fatal this same month, reminding us that danger exists in small homes as wellÖ

  8. #8
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Jul 2003


    I don't remember where I was or when I heard about it.

    I was a career federal firefighter at an Army base in Maryland at the time, I lived in Philadelphia. I was scheduled to work the day of the ceremony, however my Fire Chief knew that the fire service was in my blood and deep in my soul, so when I asked about taking a leave day to attend the funerals (I offered to do so in our uniform and represent the entire department on my personal time) not only did he allow me to use comp time, he handed me some money to use to buy gas for my car and a meal.

    I attended the ceremony with my Father, a volunteer firefighter. I remember driving up, and seeing many, many Department and personal fire vehicles on the interstates and back roads headed towards there. The closer to Worcester we got, the more and more FF's we saw. I think I remember parking on the outskirts of town, maybe at a huge mall parking lot or maybe an industrial park and riding school busses into town. The school bus driver was an older woman, and she was crying. She said that she knew one of the guys, but that she was crying because of all the "love and devotion being showed by all the out-of-town firefighters coming in."

    The bus dropped us off somewhere, and we marched into the area of the Centrum. I remember marching past one fire station, which was being covered by a lime green tower ladder from Massport. Then I remember marching past Fire Headquarters.

    It was the most emotionally-charged event of my fire service career (without taking away anything from the W6) up to September 11, 2001. I am glad that I did it with my father (we also attended many 9-11 funerals together as well....)
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 12-03-2009 at 11:07 AM.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  9. #9
    the 4-1-4 Jasper 45's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
    ...A great place, on a Great Lake


    I was on shift while a good friend of mine passed the word. He had been informed by a close friend of his that is a member of the Chelsea, MA department.
    We were all just kind of dumbstruck, as that many brothers killed in an incident was almost unheard of in our career spans; at least up to that point.
    There wasn't much else to do, being almost a thousand miles away.

    I was unable to make the memorial, and regret it to this day that I didn't make more of an effort to get there. I did make the safety seminar the following October.

    Paul, Jeremiah, Thomas, Tim, James and Joseph are on my mind every December.

  10. #10
    Forum Member
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    Jan 2009


    Total heartbreak ... remember seeing the service on TV.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber SteveDude's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    London, England


    Always remembered...

  12. #12
    Forum Member
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    Nov 2000


    Retired now, but was on duty that night. As the night went on and the news got worse it was just numbing, kind of surreal.

    We went to the memorial and the thing I remember was that as we marched through the city it was absolutely silent and I did fine until we got to the Centrum and I heard the bagpipes........never forget it.

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    Feb 2000


    I had just gotten up to go to work that evening and a friend of mine who is a chief on a neighboring department called me to tell me to turn the tv on. I was glued to the tv for the next 3 days. It was awful.

    Like Jasper said, up to the point, it was unheard of that many brothers at once who were lost. I kept wondering about how the department could handle such a loss and how they could survive. It just kept going round and round in my head how could any department survive that great of a loss? They did, with the support of the international brotherhood. That's what makes this job better than all the rest, the support network you get when you really need it.

    At the same time that was going on, there were renovations going on in an old factory here in town. It was an old Uniroyal Tire Company that a contractor was fixing for individual shops and apartments. It was made of heavy timber and constructed like the cold storage buildings there. In my department we reviewed our search and rescue procedures and focused on more training. We did a lot more training on building construction and new construction in our area. That incident really created our department to pay attention to building construction more so than before.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine

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