Worcester MA Firefighters Mark Somber Anniversary

Thirteen years ago, a massive fire in a Worcester warehouse killed six city firefighters, and more than a decade later, much has changed in the way firefighters respond to emergencies, reports WWLP 22.

Firefighters, who were trying to put out a fire in an abandoned building from inside, soon learned that two homeless people had been living in the warehouse.

A team of firefighters went upstairs to look for the homeless people, who they believed may still have been trapped inside. The firefighters became lost in the dark, maze-like interior of the highly flammable building, and began running out of air while on the 5th floor, far from the only exit.

Under those conditions and unable to escape for 45 minutes, six Worcester firefighters — Paul Brotherton, Jeremiah Lucey, Thomas Spencer, Timothy Jackson, James Lyons, and Joseph McGuirk– died in the fire.

Today, fire departments have much more widely applied a system of placards to put on abandoned buildings. These placards warn firefighters on arrival of the risks of entering a given abandoned building during a fire. Additionally, the advance of technology has allowed fire departments to have more information about given buildings readily available.

More consideration is expected when it comes to firefighter safety. Worcester, for example, now assigns a safety officer when they begin to fight a fire, with the officer’s job being to make sure all personnel are accounted-for.

More fire departments also use thermal imaging cameras, which are extremely helpful to those trying to put out fires in the dark. While such a camera was in use at the time of the Worcester fire, it malfunctioned. Technology has since improved.

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