Memorial Dedication to be Held on Anniversary of Tragic Worcester Blaze

Dec. 3, 2008 will mark the ninth anniversary of the fire at a cold storage warehouse that claimed the lives of six Worcester, Mass. firefighters -- it will also in many ways mark a new beginning for the department.

A new fire station will exist on the very soil the fallen firefighters gave their lives, and next to it will stand a remembrance wall that will serve to honor their sacrifice.

The wall will consist of a slab of granite standing about six feet high and running about 12 feet.

Dec. 3 will mark the ninth anniversary of the fire at a cold storage warehouse that claimed the lives of six Worcester, Mass. firefighters -- it will also in many ways mark a new beginning for the department.A new fire station will exist on the very soil the fallen firefighters gave their lives, and next to it will stand a remembrance wall that will serve to honor their sacrifice.

The wall will consist of a slab of granite standing about six feet high and running about 12 feet. Carved into the granite will be an image of six firefighters in action. In front of the wall will be a pedestal with a folded bronze coat and helmet sitting on top of it. Behind the pedestal will be a bronze sculpture of a firefighter kneeling, giving reverence to his fallen brothers.

Along with the dedication, the seventh and final Worcester Fire Department Safety and Survival Seminar will be held on the same day as the dedication.

"A lot of positive came out of our negative," Lieutenant John Daly said. "It's time for us to wrap it up and I can't think of a better way."

Creating the Memorial

Worcester Captain Kevin Maloney met sculptor Brian Hanlon at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore in 2007. At the time, Hanlon was working on a sculpture for Holy Cross College -- located in Worcester -- and he stopped Maloney after spotting the department's logo on his shirt.

The department had been talking about creating a monument on the grounds of the new station, and after Hanlon shared some of his prototypes with Maloney, things started taking shape.

The total cost of the project will cost the department approximately $110,000 -- the rest of which they hope to raise through the proceeds from this year's seminar, along with a raffle for a 2009 Honda Civic.

The department already had close to $60,000 in funds from past safety seminars and donations from fellow firefighters. In 2001, shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the department donated the money raised that year by the seminar to a fund set up by the FDNY.

Daly said that while the money raised from the past seminars was initially set aside for the Worcester Fire Firefighters Memorial Park -- spearheaded by city officials -- they eventually decided to put it towards the remembrance wall.

"It's been a very slow process to be quite honest," Daly, who sits on the city's memorial committee, said. "They've been dragging their feet on it too long."

The committee began meeting shortly after the tragic fire, and as plans began to expand, so did the cost. Daly said the person who won a competition set up by the city put a price tag on the proposed project of between three and five million dollars.

"It made it really unrealistic," he said. "They decided to turn it into a memorial park." According to Daly, the committee hasn't met for close to 10 months.

He also believes that the style of the proposed memorial (View Photo) wasn't something the department's members could relate to.

"To me, (the dedication wall) is what they wanted. They didn't want something abstract," he said. "They wanted something that related to firefighters and the work."

Both men say they the thing they are proud of the most is how the money for the dedication wall was raised: through donations solely from firefighters. No private donations were sought for the project.

Honoring the Fallen on Tragic Grounds

Maloney said that when the department found out the new station would be built on the site of the fire, it was a no brainer. The new station is set to open by the time the dedication is held.

The decision by the city to purchase the land for the new station, however, was at first a sore spot for some firefighters, but Maloney said time has helped heal some wounds.

Daly agrees with his comrade: "It would have been a travesty to have anything else built there," he said. "For other guys though, it just hurts too much there for them. It's bittersweet I suppose."

Being able to come full circle and honor their fallen brothers on the plot of land where they perish is something Maloney is thankful for. "The fact that we are able to put our own memorial there; it's pretty satisfying."

Dedication and Seminar Details

  • When: Dedication will begin at 5 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the new station built on the site of the fire at 266 Franklin Street, Worcester, Mass.

     

  • Lodging: The Crowne Plaza Hotel has rooms available for $89 (regular rate is $179). The deadline to receive the discounted rate is Nov. 11.

     

  • Contact Information: Lieutenant John Daly can be reached by phone at 508-423-4799 and by e-mail at jadalyjr@aol.com

     

  • Worcester Fire Department Safety and Survival Seminar

    • The seminar will take place the morning and finish before the dedication.

     

     

  • Scheduled speakers

    • Deputy Chief John Tripp, Los Angeles County Fire Department
      Interstate 5 Tunnel Fire

    • FDNY Battalion Chief John Salka
      Leadership in the fire service

    • FDNY Lt. Mickey Conboy
      Residential Search

    • FDNY Captain Mike Dugan
      Venting Today's Fire Buildings

     

 

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