From Today's Boston Globe
S.C. blaze revives Worcester pain
Fire unit recalls Cold Storage toll
By Adam Gorlick, Associated Press | June 20, 2007
WORCESTER -- When news emerged early yesterday that nine firefighters had died battling a warehouse fire in Charleston, S.C., the Worcester Fire Department was lurched into a past it struggles to come to terms with.
"My heart started to race, and my hands were actually shaking," said Mike McNamee, one of the Fire Department's district chiefs who was on duty the night of Dec. 3, 1999, when a homeless couple staying in the abandoned building sparked the Worcester Cold Storage fire. Six firefighters died in the warehouse blaze.
"I know what those guys in Charleston are going through and what they're about to go through," McNamee said. "It's not going to be easy at all."
The year following the Worcester fire was filled with countless memorials and an outpouring of support from the community. But it also was a time of intense grieving that brought depression, anger, and frustration.
To help get beyond the despair, the department beefed up its training, focusing on how firefighters could best protect themselves while trying to extinguish a blaze and evacuate a smoldering building. The new protocols became examples for other departments, which sent firefighters to Worcester for training.
State building and fire codes also were rewritten to make structures safer for firefighters. Abandoned buildings, for example, are now required to be securely boarded up and must be marked so firefighters know they're empty.
Worcester firefighters are poised to do whatever they can to help Charleston . The support was echoed in a letter of sympathy Governor Deval Patrick sent to Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
"We'll never forget the outpouring of support we received," said Frank Raffa, who heads the Worcester firefighters union and offered union officials in Charleston advice and aid in dealing with the media, fund-raising organizations, and memorial services.
McNamee encouraged the South Carolina firefighters to talk about the tragedy and get counseling for their grief, but he said time is the only thing that will help them heal. And even time will help only so much.
"Every time the memory comes back, it's like a punch in the gut," he said.
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06-20-2007, 12:28 PM #1
Worcester FD ready to help Charleston"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
06-20-2007, 07:16 PM #2
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
FDNY's pipe band has offered their services and supposed to be playing at the memorial service Friday.
My understanding is that most of the Presidential canidates have said that they will be attending. I hope that they don't do a disservice to our grieving brothers and sisters in Charleston by using this as a polictical tool.
06-20-2007, 07:41 PM #3
Unfortunately that will be tossed out there regardeless, but who really cares. At least they are making the time, for whatever reason. If it had happened up here, we would expect the same from our political leaders.
The standard advice applies for the candidates or any other "VIPS": Show up, shut up, and respect thier sacrifice. It's about honoring the Charleston 9, and not holding press conferences.
I'm glad (but not surprised) to see the hand offered by Worcester and NY. Obviously some very useful experience in that bunch.Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!
06-20-2007, 07:55 PM #4
- Join Date
- Dec 1998
- Maryland (but always a Long Islander first)
Well, today's article (I think on page 3, too, I don't have my copy anymore) in The Hill will shed some light...
Firefighters slip through cracks as 2008 Democrats court labor
By By Sam Youngman and Aaron Blake
June 20, 2007
Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) was the only Democratic presidential candidate to mention nine South Carolina firefighters who died in a blaze Monday, although many candidates addressed labor groups yesterday.
The nine deaths represents the most firefighters killed in a single event since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Edwards, speaking at the Take Back America conference, which was cosponsored by the AFL-CIO, took a few moments at the beginning of his remarks to “acknowledge … the incredible sacrifice those firefighters have made and that those families have made.”
Edwards, a South Carolina native, called the deaths “a great loss for my home state.”
The former senator and other candidates, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), did not mention the tragedy during their morning remarks at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees conference.
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), speaking to an AFL-CIO rally on Capitol Hill, also did not mention the fire.
All of the major Democratic candidates have actively courted the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) endorsement, as the group was considered by many to be crucial to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) resurrection in the 2004 primaries.
An IAFF official yesterday said Edwards had called the organization’s president, Harold Schaitberger, to express his condolences, but the official added that Schaitberger was traveling and it is possible other candidates had reached out as well.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Richardson also called Schaitberger to offer their condolences and support, as did Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).
At least three of the nine firefighters killed when a burning furniture store in Charleston, S.C., collapsed were IAFF members with the Charleston Local 61.
The early-voting state of South Carolina is a Right-to-Work state.
Obama did not mention the tragedy in either of his speeches yesterday, but his campaign posted a statement of condolence on the “Community Blogs” section of his campaign website early in the afternoon.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) appeared to be the first out of the gate with a statement e-mailed to reporters.
Other campaigns appeared to be unsure of how to respond yesterday afternoon, as they replied to inquiries by asking if other campaigns had issued statements.
Clinton, Biden and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) had not issued statements by press time.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), whose candidacy many firefighters oppose, addressed the fallen firefighters during a press conference in Dallas. The former mayor told reporters he was asking people to pray for the families, harkening back to the firefighters lost during his tenure as mayor and on Sept. 11.
A spokesman for the City of Charleston said Clinton, Edwards and Giuliani had called the mayor’s office to offer support.
When Schaitberger took to the campaign trail in 2003 and 2004 to voice the union’s endorsement of Kerry, he almost always referred to the time in 1999 when Kerry canceled a trip to attend memorial services for six firefighters who were killed in Worcester, Mass.
An aide to Kerry said yesterday the senator had called the Charleston mayor’s office and Bob McCarthy, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts (PFFM), to offer his condolences and support because the fire is “such a terrible reminder of what happened in Worcester.”"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
-- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)
06-20-2007, 10:35 PM #5
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
I was in Ocean City at the Maryland State Firemans Convention, from Monday night, and we heard about this just after we pulled in. From what I was told, the story went through the Convention like wild fire.
My heartfelt prayers to the folks in Charleston on a truly very unhappy event.
06-20-2007, 10:46 PM #6
- Join Date
- Sep 1999
- I don't know but I here laughing.
Wither a fan or not. I hope to see only the present commander and chief at any ceremony. I do not want to see a spectacle.This space for rent
06-20-2007, 11:51 PM #7
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
At this time I plan on attending the memorial services. North Charleston where the memorial is is only about a 5 hour drive south.
Is anyone else planning on attending?
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