Sunday, October 11, 2009

For firefighters, a time to remember


WORCESTER — In the cool crisp morning air, friends and family of firefighters who died over the past year gathered to honor their memories outside the fire headquarters on Grove Street during the Firefighters' Memorial Sunday.

With the sounds of bagpipes and drums echoing through the two ladders trucks stretching their apparatus across Grove Street, Fire Chief Gerard A. Dio spoke fondly of the firefighters who died.

“And that is why we are here today. To remember those who have gone before us, committed to the purpose of this department,” he said. “That is to keep the citizens of this fine city safe from disasters be it natural of man-made.”

Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes thanked the firefighters for taking part in a job that becomes tougher every year. She noted firefighters are tasked with protecting the citizens and property of the city and the department has endured tragedy in the past.
She said the department has a staff of highly trained firefighters who continue to strive for knowledge.

With a department of 384 funded firefighter positions, currently the department has 375 working. The department received good news a few days ago. Mayor Lukes said the department received $940,900 in federal stimulus funds that allows 16 members of the recruit class to start working Nov. 15.

District Chief Raymond E. Whitney; Lieutenants Walter B. Baxter, Francis George, John McNamara, James H. Stolberg Jr., Donald M. Harvey, Paul R. Dillaire, Francis Owens; and Firefighters John K. Foley, Michael Mard, Robert O'Donnell Leonard, Frank Crean, John J. Foley, Robert M. Noone Sr., Norman L. Carlson, Ralph J. Aktarian and Jerry Popillo were remembered along with chief mechanic Frank McCaffrey, George Kahil from fire alarm and Tim Goode of the maintenance division.

Chief Dio recalled seeing the retired members of the department at functions, but now they are gone and yesterday was their time to be remembered.

“And when that final alarm rings for us may we fine peace in our hearts to know that we did our job well and to the best of our ability,” the chief said.
Firefighters stand at attention during the annual Worcester Fire Department memorial service outside fire headquarters this morning. (T&G Staff / DAN GOULD)
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