December 3, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire that resulted in the line of duty death of six courages brother firefighters.

The Worcester Six;
Firefighter Paul Brotherton Rescue 1
Firefighter Jeremiah Lucey Rescue 1
Lieutenant Thomas Spencer Ladder 2
Firefighter Timothy Jackson Ladder 2
Firefighter James Lyons Engine 3
Firefighter Joseph McGuirk Engine 3

Take a moment to reflect on the events of December 3, 1999 and what they may mean to you. Consider your knowledge and understanding of buildings and structures within your district and surrounding response areas. Remember; “Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety”.

For those of you who do not know about this incident, attached is the USFA Incident Report that provides insights into the event and the lessons learned. Also check out the NIOSH Report and numerous archived articles on the web and within various journals

On Friday, December 3, 1999, at 1813 hours, the Worcester, Massachusetts Fire Department dis¬patched Box 1438 for 266 Franklin Street, the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. A motor¬ist had spotted smoke coming from the roof while driving on an adjacent elevated highway. The original building was constructed in 1906, contained another 43,000 square feet. Both were 6 stories above grade. The building was known to be abandoned for over 10 years. Due to these and other factors, the responding District Chief ordered a second alarm within 4 minutes of the initial dispatch.

The first alarm assignment brought 30 firefighters and officers and 7 pieces of apparatus to the scene. The second provided an additional 12 men and 3 trucks as well as a Deputy Chief. Firefighters encountered a light smoke condition throughout the warehouse, and crews found a large fire in the former office area of the second floor. An aggressive interior attack was started within the second floor and ventilation was conducted on the roof. There were no windows or other openings in the warehousing space above the second floor.

Eleven minutes into the fire, the owner of the abutting Kenmore Diner advised fire operations of two homeless people who might be living in the warehouse. The rescue company, having divided into two crews, started a building search. Some 22 minutes later the rescue crew searching down from the roof became lost in the vast dark spaces of the fifth floor. They were running low on air and called for help. Interior conditions were deteriorating rapidly despite efforts to extinguish the blaze, and visibility was nearly lost on the upper floors.

Investigators have placed these two firefighters over 150 feet from the only available exit.
An extensive search was conducted by Worcester Fire crews through the third and fourth alarms. Suppression efforts continued to be ineffective against huge volumes of petroleum based materials, and ultimately two more crews became disoriented on the upper floors and were unable to escape. When the evacuation order was given one hour and forty-five minutes into the event, five firefighters and one officer were missing. None survived.

A subsequent exterior attack was set up and lasted for over 20 hours utilizing aerial pieces and del¬uge guns from Worcester and neighboring departments. Task force groups from across the State of Massachusetts responded to initial suppression and subsequent recovery efforts. During this time, the four upper floors collapsed onto the second which became known as “the deck”. Over 6 million gallons of water were used during the suppression efforts.

According to NFPA records, this is the first loss of six firefighters in a structure fire where neither building collapse nor an explosion was a contributing factor to the fatalities. (Excerpt from USFA report )

Remember the sacrafice, the honor and courage...

Take at look at The Worcester Telegram & Gazette which has an archived webpage;

Read the rest of the detailed post HERE at the Blog

USFA Abandoned Buildings Special Download HERE



Derelict buildings marked after Mass. LODDs

Haunting memories spurred Mass. chief to positive action

Special 10 Year Anniversary Coverage HERE

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Always Remember...
I think it's good to remember these events, but have we learnt from them?

I'm afraid we haven't in many aspects of our responses.

The link Christopher posted includes the following gems to consider:

2. Firefighters must make a concerted effort to know the buildings in their response districts.
This'd be about pre-planning yet many still don't pre-plan. Sure, there's the exception, but....

4. Fire departments should continue to grown their file information on buildings in their communities.
See above.

7. The fire service should initiate life safety activities early on at a fire scene.
RIT is still being debated and I suggest will continue to be debated. There's pro's and con's. Some will argue we're too aggressive and shouldn't be in a siutation where we need RIT, others argue it's the next logical step in managing the safety of the scene. The reality is, many still don't have RIT procedures and teams in place.

9. Techniques must be improved to better track the movements of firefighters within a structure.
Yep. No argument there. And it's any structure, not just large structures such as the warehouse in which this event occurred.

10. Radio channels are often overloaded at multiple alarm fires, and alternatives must be explored.
That's assuming everyone who needs a radio has one. There is still, and will continue to be interoperability issues with radios between agencies as well.

11. The use of Thermal Imaging Cameras should be further developed.
Absolutely! Many departments still don't have a camera or access to one in their response area or surrounds. Yet we know the advantages (and disadvantages of them).

The CDC report that Christopher linked to offers the following:
Recommendation #2: Fire Departments should ensure that the incident command system is fully implemented at the fire scene.
How many can put their hand on heart and say this happens everytime, and properly?

Recommendation #8: Implement an overall health and safety program such as the one recommended in NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program.
How many have done this?

Recommendation #11: Fire departments should ensure that officers enforce and fire fighters follow the mandatory mask rule per administrative guidelines established by the department.
this is about SCBA use and the use of masks and yet we still see multiple examples here and YouTube and many other sites of FF's not wearing SCBA in environments that clearly require it.

So again I say that it's importnant to remember, but more importantly, we MUST learn from these incidents....
More importantly, always learn...
Important points Lutan. It can be easy to read some recommendations and easily pass some off because some communities may not have such structures, so no reason to implement.....wrong. Every thing you listed can and should be implemented and instead of excuses "why we can't" but look for solutions "how we can".

I'm proud to be affiliated with a dept that can honestly say "yes" to all this, but that doesn't mean things can't go wrong and things don't change. Such issues have to be constantly and consistently reviewed and keep abreast of changes that inevitably occur. Important notes here you mention.

As for the Worcester 6, if anyone ever has the chance to read the book 2000 Degrees I highly recommend it, it was tough to put down when started and you felt like you got to know these guys personally.
I agree John..

I started reading the 3000 degrees book and couldn't put it down till i finished it...
Its a true story of the brotherhood and courage... along with the heroic actions of the firefighters.
As you pointed out, the readers get to know each firefighter personally.

Always remembered, never forgotten.
And Amen.
one would hope and pray that we all have and will continue to learn from this terrible loss... my prayers go out to the family and crew members affected by this incident.
The Worcester Six

We came to be known
as the Worcester Six
but we were just firemen
the ones God had picked

We were called to respond
to a fire one night
when we arrived on the scene
there was no one in sight

A fire in a warehouse
the dispatcher said
we were told it was empty
we thought, victims, instead

A faint wisp of smoke
hung in the air
the fire lay waiting
deep inside, somewhere

A cold winter’s wind
cut through the cold
we assume someone’s inside
no matter what we’re told

Engine-men were stretching
their hose up the stairs
as Ladder-men gathered tools
getting prepared…

…for the task lying before us
to search and to vent
this is our responsibility
it’s why we’re sent

As we entered the building
looking up toward the sky
no windows were visible
we’d have to vent high

So we climbed up six flights
to access the roof
light smoke in the stairway
serving as proof

That a fire was present
not yet too intense
these measures we employ
are the proper defense

They allow us more time
for search and for rescue
before the fire gets rolling
cutting off our escape route

After we vented the roof
we descended one floor
to begin searching for victims
entering through a door

We’re in a windowless room
our lights cut through the haze
from one room to another
soon we’re lost in a maze

As we’re searching for victims
and for the exit
the fire suddenly intensifies
as oxygen reaches it

In what seems a blink of an eye
the smoke’s black and thick
we don our masks with urgency
we need to get out quick

Desperately look for the stairs
can’t find our way out
fumble for our radios
“Mayday, Mayday” we shout

Crawling through this labyrinth
from room to room
only twelve minutes of air
between us and our doom

We try to relay our location
to our brothers outside
in hopes that they’ll find us
before we have died

Enveloped in the darkness
time seemed to be frozen
suddenly aware of the risks
of this profession we’d chosen

It takes but a moment to realize
we may not survive
we’re now sharing our air
trying to stay alive

Meanwhile, desperation outside
as we lay dying
a rescue plan put together
two brothers are trying

Trying to reach us in time
and pull us to safety
but their effort’s in vain
it just wasn’t to be

They crawl through the darkness
and become lost too
now the rescuers are victims
so they start another crew

No shortage of volunteers
outside the building
to risk his life for his brothers
every man is willing

The only thing that mattered now
was finding their brothers
for it’s their unwritten code
to depend on each other

As the third crew fell victim
to this hellish structure
whether more crews be sent in
was up for conjecture

It was then that the Chief did
what had to be done
he pulled everyone out of there
the building had won

It had swallowed our bravest
and was not giving them up
in a last act of bravery that night
the Chief said, “Enough!”

For more than two weeks following
as the world looked on
the city of Worcester, Massachusetts
recovered their brave sons

There were funerals and memorials
and a Presidential proclamation
the bravery and valor of these men
was beyond imagination

God keep you Paul, Tim, Tom, Jeremiah, Joe, & Jay
There is a book out written by one of the Chiefs involved in that Fire....It is called "3000 Degrees" He called it that because during the fire they overflew it in a helicopter and scanned it with a camera and it registered 3000 degrees...But remarkably some of the items found were intact...medals and medallions that the men wore...if you get the chance get the book in either standard text or on audio and read won't take long...I read it in one day....I just couldn't put it down.....Rest well Brothers, Keep Heaven safe...Manning it well with all those that have passed both before and after....God Bless......Paul
R.I.P brothers. I think we all have learned since this tragedy, tactics have & continue to change.
They did not die in vain!
Just wanted to say God Bless all

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