Tragedy in Worcester Again, By Tom Kenney, Retired Captain PFD

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


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Once again I rise from sleep on a December morning to the tragic news that one of my brothers from the Worcester Fire Department has made the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of his duties as a firefighter. It seems unfathomable to me that one fire department could suffer such loss on such a regular basis. It’s also inconceivable to me that these tragic fires would all happen within a week of each other on the calendar. In different years, but eerily close in dates (Dec 3, 1999; Dec 8, 2011; Dec 9, 2018).

A firefighter LODD (line of duty death) is always a terrible occurrence, but repeating this horrible cycle is beyond my ability to comprehend. My sympathies, my appreciation and my tears go to the family of this brave man. They also go to his extended family…his brothers and sisters in the Worcester Fire Department, as well as all his brothers and sisters in the fire service around the globe. Make no mistake, firefighters all over feel lessened when a firefighter anywhere pays the ultimate price for responding to the call for help from his fellow citizens.

For me, and for my brothers and sisters from the Providence Fire Department, it strikes dangerously close to home…not only in geographical proximity but in the similarities of our departments. The Providence and Worcester fire departments have long been considered sister departments. We are of similar size and both cities share the same types of buildings and hazards that may be unique to urban departments in New England. This makes it an even tougher loss to us personally.

Tragically, I have attended two separate LODD funerals in Worcester over the past 20 years for 7 different heroes. The first such funeral was for the Worcester 6 and at the time was the largest gathering of firefighters ever assembled in a single location. The 2nd was 12 years and 5 days later when another hero from Worcester was cut down in his prime. Both were cold December days when the streets of Worcester were shut down by a sea of blue. Firefighters from all over, paying their respects for brothers who suffered the fate we all have lurking in the back of our minds. We pray it never happens to any of us, but we know all too well that it will.

This time I won’t be attending, as I’ve given up my dress blues in retirement, but I will be there in spirit as a younger generation of firefighters from near and far take up the mantle. There will be tears shed, salutes held at attention, words of praise and many beers toasted to this brave man. Firefighters are a strange breed and we have our own traditions for sending each other off in style.

So on this day and the days that follow I’d ask those of you in the general public with no connection to the fire service to take a moment and pray for the soul of this man and be thankful that there are men and women like him in your own hometown who are willing to risk their lives at a moment’s notice to protect your lives and property and the lives of those whom you love.

I salute you, brother, we’ll take it from here!


Tom Kenney

Captain, PFD, Retired


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