McNamee retired just last month and during the intervening years, he said the department has made a lot of changes to improve firefighter safety through a combination of training and the purchase of new technology, including thermal imaging cameras, additional radios and firefighter tracking devices.
The training has been extensive and shared by Worcester to firefighters all across the country and Canada. The fact that the world looked to Worcester for knowledge helped buoy the department that had been shaken, but not broken.
As for himself, he acknowledges that, “The dark clouds circled” for him a bit after the tragic fire, but he took full advantage of all the critical incident stress management. He jokes that he has a PhD. on the topic, but he did it for his wife and family. He knew he had to keep himself well.
Nevertheless, this time of year takes a little piece out of the retired chief. He said he gets “a little out of step,” sometimes less, some times more.
“But you can’t forget them,” he said.
And even though he just retired after 37 years, he still loved the job.
“I left this place smiling,” he said. “I wasn’t bitter. I wasn’t angry. I left here happy. It was very good to me, I’d do it again. …I always tried to remember where I came from and treat people they way you want to be treated, that’s all. And know your business. When anybody new came on my shift, I would just say, ‘I’ve got six words for you: know your job, do your job. That’s it. Simple.’”