Once more the black hand of Death has reached out for the Worcester Fire Department. Once more an icy cold night has brought tragedy to my hometown.
Once more a family grieves, their memories of the holidays forever altered. A family which was to have left for vacation at Disney following last night's shift.
Once more a sea of blue prepares to come to Heart of the Commonwealth. Once more The Brotherhood will comfort the family, the city, and show solidarity.
December 3rd marks the twentieth anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage Fire, which claimed the lives of six WFD members and changed the city forever. Late fall has become a dark time for the City of Worcester, which has now lost nine in those twenty years.
Just yesterday the Worcester Red Sox announced they will retire uniform number 6 in tribute. They said every home game they will also reserve eight tickets for family and friends of WFD's eight fallen; I am saddened they will have to increase that to nine after last night.
Give me the blood and broken bones and the lonely old ladies who just want you to hold their hand any day. I could never do what firefighters do. In EMS the best fire stand-by is one where you stand in the cold for a few hours and do nothing; the worst are the ones like last night, where you have to show the firefighters you have their backs.
Jason joined the department during my last year on the road for Worcester EMS. I think I ran some calls with him, but after a decade I can't be sure.
I wish this hadn't happened, that technology could protect our firefighters better. Sadly, Jason won't be the last. Worcester Fire showed, once again, that after something like this all of us in public safety dust ourselves off and get on with the job. And Worcester Police and EMS will show them, once again, that they stand with them.
RIP Lieutenant Jason Menard, Worcester Fire Department, Ladder 5, Group 2.