MASSACHUSSETS LINE OF DUTY DEATH~ Firefighter Jon Davies
On December 8, 2011, Firefighter Jon Davies of the Worcester Fire Department died in the line of duty. Brian R. Ballou and Glen Johnson, staff reporters for the Boston Globe filed this story.
WORCESTER- A Worcester firefighter was killed and his partner injured early today when the rear of a burning apartment building collapsed on them as they searched for a still-missing tenant, officials said.
In an echo of a 1999 blaze that killed six city firefighters, a group of six firefighters reentered a building at 44 Arlington St. amid a three-alarm blaze today after being told that one occupant was unaccounted for following an initial search, Worcester Fire Chief Gerard A. Dio said.
The firefighters rushed back inside intent on searching the rear of the building where the missing tenant lives, but the fire-damaged structure collapsed onto Rescue 1 Firefighter Jon Davies and his partner, Rescue 1 Firefighter Brian Carroll.
Dio said Carroll was able to communicate with his fellow firefighters, but Davies did not. Carroll ended up in the basement; Davies was on the first floor.
“He was trapped by structural elements,’’ Dio said of Davies.
Dio added: “They were almost on top of each other…That was his partner, the two of them together.’’
Dio said Davies was a 17-year veteran and Carroll has been a member of the department for 14 years. He said both were involved in the response to the Dec. 3, 1999, Cold Storage warehouse fire, which began when two homeless people used candles to warm themselves.
The firefighters were killed in 1999 when they ran inside the building to search for the homeless couple, became lost amidst the smoky fire in the burning warehouse, and died when they ran out of oxygen. The homeless couple had already left the building.
Dio said he has spoken with Carroll, who is hospitalized at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. He said Carroll, who was trapped for about an hour, is expected to survive his injuries.
“He seems in good spirits,’’ Dio said.
Davies was 43 years old and was scheduled to be married on New Year’s Eve, officials said. He was the father of three sons, including two sons who are in the military. One son is deployed toAfghanistan, he said. Davies also leaves behind his mother and a sister.
Dio said it is not yet known if a resident was in fact still in the building when Davies and Carroll rushed in. Heavy construction equipment is being brought to the scene to help with a resumed search, and for the ongoing investigation into the cause of the fire.
A dozen people lived in the building, officials said.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, a formerWorcestermayor who went to the fire scene this morning, attended the memorial service for the Cold Storage victims earlier this month.
“Just to have something like this happen so soon after, December has been a cruel month for the Worcester Fire Department,” said the lieutenant governor.
There is now a fire station on the Cold Storage site. Murraysaid the 1999 fire was a galvanizing event for the state’s second-largest city.
“I think the fact that the community, the city, the fire department came together to build a new fire station on the site of that fire, I think was also a commitment to make sure what happened there was never forgotten,” Murray said.
“On behalf of Governor Patrick and the people of Massachusetts, I extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jon Davies, who died a hero’s death in the tragic fire in Worcester,’’ Murray said in the statement who also offered support to Carroll and his family.
Murrayalso applauded the surviving Worcester firefighters.
“When duty called, they answered, and in the face of a deadly fire, they responded quickly to protect their fellow citizens,’’ he said. “Now, it is up to all of us to offer our prayers and reach out in any way we can to provide comfort and support for those who suffered so greatly.”
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said the cause remains under investigation, but added that the preliminary findings indicate that the fire began in the rear of the apartment building. Agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are assisting state and local investigators.
Please join with us in sending our condolences to the family and peers of Firefighter Jon Davies.
Cards and letters of condolence can be sent to:
Worcester Fire Department
141 Grove Street
Worcester, MA 01605-1707
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