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    Default I knew them all.... The Strand Theatre Fire 1941

    I knew them all’: Survivor of ’41 inferno looks to honor comrades
    By Dave Wedge
    Boston Herald Chief Enterprise Reporter

    Friday, March 9, 2007 - Updated: 01:29 AM EST



    Boston Herald photo


    Sixty-six years ago, Edward “Sonny” Burrell was a gung-ho 26-year-old who cheated death in a Brockton theater blaze that ranks second only to the Sept. 11 attacks as the single deadliest day for firefighters in American history.

    The 92-year-old retired Brockton fire chief is the last surviving member of the department that battled the March 10, 1941, Strand Theater inferno that killed 13 firefighters. He’s now hoping he’ll live to see a long-overdue memorial.

    “I’d like to see the memorial before I die,” Burrell said. “It was a pretty tragic event for all of us at the time. Thirteen of them gone and there were several of them injured. I knew them all.”



    Tomorrow marks the 66th anniversary of the deadly fire, and the city is continuing a push to raise enough money for a memorial on City Hall plaza.

    Led by Lt. Richard Baker of the Brockton firefighters union, the department is nearing its $150,000 fund-raising goal for a bronze statue of a firefighter and a granite memorial just feet from the site of the deadly fire.

    Brockton fire Chief Kenneth Galligan said Burrell’s advancing age has become a driving force to complete the project.

    “We would like to get this memorial done in honor of him while he is still with us,” the chief said. “He’s not getting any younger. We would love to have him there when that memorial is dedicated.”

    The city has approved the project and a Northampton artist has been selected to design the memorial. “It’s . . . long overdue,” Mayor James Harrington said.

    For Burrell, the tragedy is a distant memory, but one which he feels younger generations should never forget. He recalled the toll the tragedy took on the then-bustling Shoe City as surviving firefighters took up collections to help care for the many widows and fatherless children left behind.

    He also recalls how he almost lost his life that day. He was part of a company that was extending a ladder onto the Strand’s roof when the structure collapsed.

    “Just as we were putting the ladder down onto the roof so we could get down on it, the roof caved in,” he recalled. “If it had been five minutes more, there would have been five more of us in there.”

    The push for the Brockton memorial is just the latest struggle to honor fallen Bay State firefighters.

    It took years to build a memorial to the nine Boston firefighters killed in the 1972 Hotel Vendome fire, and efforts still are under way to build a memorial to six Worcester firefighters killed in 1999.

    A $1 million State House memorial to fallen firefighters partially funded by a $250,000 state grant is slated to be dedicated in the fall.

    “All of these are very important to memorialize the public safety workers who died very courageously in the line of duty,” said state Fire Marshall Stephen Coan.
    ‎"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

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    Great post and history there Gonzo. I hope they do get it finished before Ed passes. Those were the days,huh?

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    Sixty-six years ago, Edward “Sonny” Burrell was a gung-ho 26-year-old who cheated death in a Brockton theater blaze that ranks second only to the Sept. 11 attacks as the single deadliest day for firefighters in American history.
    The Chicago Union Stock Yards Fire started on December 22, 1910, destroying $400,000 of property and killing twenty-one firemen, including the Fire Marshal James J. Horan. Fifty engine companies and seven hook and ladder companies fought the fire and it was extinguished by Chief Seyferlich at on December 23rd, 1910


    Some "investigative" journalist....
    Last edited by ChicagoFF; 03-10-2007 at 09:47 AM.
    I am a complacent liability to the fire service

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    He also forgot the 28 firefighters killed when the SS Grandcamp exploded in Texas City in 1947...

    Regardless of the journalist's research...

    Brothers died... and their sacrifices should never be forgotten....

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    Thank you for posting that capt. as allways it was a very nice ceremony yesterday , as well as the annual safety mass we have every year which was held today . Its great to have the chief around for all of these events .. its with hope that we can get the memorial done in the near future.. its long over due...

    Im not sure if the stats for the fire go down as collapse or building fire .. never the less ,, thirteen of my brothers gave the supreme sacrifice and will never be forgotten ... Thanks again..

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