Worcester Firefighter Recalls Tragic Collapse
Firefighter Brian Carroll lost his friend Jon Davies in the Arlington Street collapse
Published Friday, December 21, 2012
WORCESTER, MA — As December rolls into the city, the streets get colder, the wind sharper and the steps of men and women in the Worcester Fire Department get a little heavier.
Recent history has shown December to be a tough month for the department with the Dec. 3, 1999, deaths of six firefighters at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. and the death of Firefighter Jon D. Davies Sr. on Dec. 8, 2011, during a blaze at 49 Arlington St.
"We kind of want to skip December except for Christmas," Fire Chief Gerard A. Dio said. "It sounds kind of strange, but it is a tough month for us."
There won't be a formal ceremony for Lt. James F. Lyons III, Lt. Thomas E. Spencer, Firefighter Paul A. Brotherton, Lt. Timothy P. Jackson Sr., Firefighter Jeremiah M. Lucey and Firefighter Joseph T. McGuirk. The department agreed after the 10-year anniversary to hold a ceremony every five years. But firefighters will still gather informally at the location, now a fire station, the chief said.
A ceremony for Firefighter Davies, who died Dec. 8, 2011, while fighting a blaze at 49 Arlington St., will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. at the fire site.
Firefighter Davies' younger brother, Robert N. Davies, said his family will gather Saturday in the city to reflect. He is not sure whether the family will attend the ceremony. Firefighter Davies, who was 43 when he died, has a son, Jon D. Davies Jr., in the department now as a firefighter.
"Personally, I will go back and visit the scene on Saturday," Robert Davies said. "I don't know if I am ready to be there with a group of people or go there and reflect by myself."
Firefighter Brian Carroll was trapped in the basement of 49 Arlington St. after the second-floor of the three-decker collapsed underneath him and his partner on Rescue 1. He thought his close friend was OK. Firefighter Carroll lay trapped and didn't learn until after he was freed that Firefighter Davies had died.
The home that once stood on Arlington Street is gone. Outside there is a makeshift memorial for Firefighter Davies.
"I haven't been back up to the site yet," Firefighter Carroll said. "I'm sure Dec. 8 is going to be a little difficult for me going up there since I haven't been back ... I really didn't plan on going back up. I'm going to do it. I think I need to."
The events that unfolded that day rush back to Firefighter Carroll as the day gets closer.
He was also there on Dec. 3, 1999, when the department lost six firefighters in a raging inferno. Firefighter Davies worked that fire, too. Firefighter Davies escaped before the building started to crumble, his brother said.
"That was obviously a giant loss for all of us here," Firefighter Carroll said. "It went on for years that we felt that, and it's still not over."
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Video by Tom Rettig, telegram.com