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Thread: 4th anniversary of Worcester Cold Storage fire

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    4th anniversary of Worcester Cold Storage fire

    Thursday, December 4, 2003

    'Pride, unity, grief'

    'They'll be there to protect us'


    4th anniversary of Cold Storage fire
    By Mark Melady
    T&G STAFF
    mmelady@telegram.com


    WORCESTER- When Fire Chief Gerard Dio said the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building land would be under the control of the Fire Department last night, applause was heard for the first time at the annual vigil of the six city firefighters who died Dec. 3, 1999.

    "We do not know what the future will bring," Chief Dio said, "but we do know that these men will be protected by members of the Fire Department for a very long time to come."

    Chief Dio said the decision to build a 46,000-square-foot station and administrative offices at the site will mean that every time firefighters put on their boots, take up a hose or slide down the pole, "they'll be there to protect us."

    Fire Capt. Dennis Dolan, while acknowledging that many firefighters favored a memorial to the Worcester 6 at the fire site, said building a station on land firefighters consider sacred ground has eased feelings.

    "Having control of the land has made people very happy," said Capt. Dolan, standing at the fence that encloses the lot.

    "A lot of what we are is in this site," Capt. Dolan said.

    Mayor Timothy Murray said the death Saturday of Lancaster Firefighter Martin H. McNamara V was an all-too-timely reminder of the night in Worcester four years ago.

    "Seeing the images on TV of the Lancaster firefighter and his young family brought it all back home," Mr. Murray said.

    The mayor said the new firehouse agreement and the recent decision to put the city's firefighter memorial in Institute Park brings the city closer to closing the wounds of the six deaths.

    "Both will help in the healing," Mr. Murray said.

    Under a sharp half moon and in a numbing cold, several hundred huddled in front of the empty lot on Franklin Street in homage to Lts. Thomas E. Spencer, James F. "Jay" Lyons, Timothy P. Jackson, and Firefighters Paul A. Brotherton, Jeremiah M. Lucey and Joseph T. McGuirk.

    As in past years, the commemoration was short and simple, lasting less than half an hour and beginning and ending with the arrival and departure of the Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums.

    The call that dispatched firefighters to a reported fire at Grafton and Franklin streets was replayed.

    A fire bell was sounded and wreaths hung in each man's name by firefighters from the three companies that took the losses that night: Engine 3 - Lt. Lyon and Firefighter McGuirk; Ladder 2 - Lts. Spencer and Jackson and Rescue 1 - Firefighters Brotherton and Lucey.

    As the wreaths were being placed, a state police cruiser stopped in the breakdown lane about mid-point on the Interstate 290 overpass overlooking the site and remained there, its lights flashing, for the remainder of the vigil.

    Only Chief Dio and two chaplains spoke.

    The Rev. Peter Scanlon praised "six brave men who carried out their vocation as firefighters" by attempting to save homeless people they believed might be in the building.

    In his remarks, the Rev. Bruce Hughes, called the men "shining examples of courage, integrity and decency" and said the city and people they served would not be forgotten.

    "For those who have fallen, we are still here standing," Rev. Hughes said.

    Keeping memory alive was a major reason for many of those who came, including City Manager Thomas R. Hoover.

    As he waited for the ceremony to begin, Mr. Hoover said his memories of the fire and the unwavering determination of firefighters to unearth the remains of fellow firefighters in the fire ruins is a unique experience in his 38 years as a public administrator.

    "I never saw anything like it and I hope I never see it again," Mr. Hoover said. "We say we won't forget and those of us who lived through it won't, but it's important we come every year so that future generations will know we did not forget and 50 years from now people will still come."

    One who comes almost daily to the site is Crystal Jackson, sister of Lt. Jackson.

    "I'm the keeper of the flame and general all-around maintenance person," Ms. Jackson said.

    Every workday morning on her way to her job as a sterilizer technician at Worcester Medical Center, Ms. Jackson has coffee in her car in the parking lot across Franklin Street.

    She takes in the memento-draped fence that has served as the unofficial memorial to the men.

    If it looks shabby, she tidies up. Otherwise she reads the paper and has a few quiet moments with her brother.

    "I tell him what's going on," she said, laughing.

    As in the past Ms. Jackson and her sister Sherry Jackson have installed a live, fully decorated Christmas tree at the fence.

    "We've already gotten some new ornaments," she said, as she looked over the tree heavy with decorations, some hand-crafted.


    Photo Below

    The siblings of perished Lt. Timothy P. Jackson stand during a minute of silence at the fire site last night. From right, Crystal, Bryan, Sherry and Thomas Jackson. At left is sister-in-law Georgia Jackson. (T&G Staff / JIM COLLINS)
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    Memorial to fallen 6 dedicated

    Thursday, December 4, 2003

    Memorial to fallen 6 dedicated

    By Martin Luttrell
    T&G STAFF
    mluttrell@telegram.com

    WORCESTER- Four years ago they rushed into a burning warehouse to search for the homeless squatters who took shelter there, and never walked out.

    Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage fire, a memorial to the six fallen firefighters was dedicated at the firefighters' Tatnuck Square union headquarters on Chandler Street before a crowd of about 200.

    Under a sapphire blue sky, Firefighter Frank Raffa, president of Local 1009, International Association of Firefighters, unveiled the gray granite stone and bronze plaque inscribed with the names of Lt. James F. "Jay" Lyons III and Firefighter Joseph T. McGuirk, Engine 3; Lts. Thomas E. Spencer and Timothy P. Jackson, Ladder 2; and Firefighters Paul A. Brotherton and Jeremiah M. Lucey, who were on Rescue 1.

    "We felt this is the place to put the memorial," Firefighter Raffa said. "This is the heart of Local 1009. We do all our business here. We felt it would be fitting to place it in front of the flagpole. Tim (Jackson), a Vietnam combat vet, would have liked that.

    "This is good for the community and the neighborhood. We're proud of it. It's our small way of saying thanks to the community. I know there's six smiling faces looking down from the heavens."

    The stone, 4

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    Memorial honors jakes on tragic anniversary

    Memorial honors jakes on tragic anniversary
    By Tom Farmer
    Thursday, December 4, 2003

    Taking another step to ensure they will never be forgotten, Worcester firefighters unveiled a memorial yesterday to six men killed four years ago in a warehouse fire.

    On the anniversary of the devastating fire at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co., a two-ton New Hampshire granite memorial bearing six small bronze plaques surrounding a large bronze placard inscribed with the names of the fallen men was unveiled yesterday at the Worcester Fire Department's union office.

    ``After four years and having the public still remember them, there is some satisfaction,'' said Bill McGuirk, whose brother, Joseph, was killed in the fire along with Paul Brotherton, Jeremiah Lucey, James ``Jay'' Lyons, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Jackson.

    The memorial for Local 1009 of the International Association of Fire Fighters was donated by the Sansoucy Stone Co.

    ``It's another nice memorial to them,'' said Lyons' father, James Lyons.

    The recent announcement that a new fire station will be built on the fire site as part of a settlement with the property owner has also been well received in the city.

    ``We'll be the keepers of the ground,'' said District Fire Chief Michael McNamee, who stood between his men and the flames that terrible night. ``It's not going to be a McDonald's or parking garage. I'm relieved that we're going to be there.''

    An annual memorial service was also held at the fire site last night, beginning at 6:13 p.m., when the first alarm sounded. The six men became trapped in the windowless brick building after the fire was started by a homeless couple.

    ``We went right by the numbers and the thing still got us,'' said McNamee. ``It was a very big, ugly, evil building. It was an awful building.''
    http://news.bostonherald.com/localRe...?articleid=278

    PHOTO GALLERY

    Firefighters Tom Dwyer and Paul Brosnihan unveil the stone. (Staff photo by Mark Garfinkel)

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