December 3 marks the anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire, which claimed the lives of six Worcester, MA Local 1009 members – Thomas Spencer, Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey, James Lyons and Joseph McGuirk.
”I’ll never forget where I was standing on December 3, 1999, when I learned fire fighters were missing in Worcester,” says General President Edward Kelly. “For many of us on the job at that time, the Worcester Cold Storage Fire was etched into us as a stark reminder of how costly the job can be.”
The 1999 fire started when two homeless people knocked over a candle. As the blaze grew, Worcester and neighboring fire companies were called to respond. When fire fighters arrived, the people were thought to still be inside.
The building’s structure was a complicating factor. It was designed to maintain cold temperatures and there were no windows. But, on the day of the fire, the building held in the heat and smoke.
The six inside made repeated mayday calls and activated audible location alarms, but fire fighters outside the warehouse could not reach them in time.
Since the Worcester tragedy, Local 1009 has lost three other members in the line of duty: Jon D. Davies Sr. (2011), Christopher Roy (2018) and Jason Menard (2019).