Never Forget, Not Just One Day A Year (Part 2)

By Ryan Royal

December 3rd, 1999, Worcester Massachusetts. It’s an important day and most of us in the Fire Service know exactly what happened and have known this as a significant event in most of our careers. Hopefully we Never Forget, because good men were lost in a valiant effort and also left behind a terribly large number of widows and children. We lost 6 brother firefighters that day, some who were searching for the helpless, and some who were searching for their brothers. A very dramatic fire scene that ended up with a Chief performing an act that could have been one of the hardest decisions he has ever made in his career. The decision to deny entry of any other firefighters, all while knowing he had already potentially lost 6 of his men, and many more could have been lost in the same fashion. This fire changed our fire service, just like so many others, they all bring about some type of lesson.

I have spoke about this specific topic before, the last time was on 9-11 and had the same title (Never Forget, Not Just One Day A Year). What do these fires mean to us? We say Never Forget right? Well for those of us who were not there, were not intimately involved, didn’t see the funeral, or have to remove a brother from a building, what does this mean for us? We say never forget, but it has to run deeper than that, it cannot be something that we share or recognize on that one day of the year in the name of brotherhood. We must truly do our best to honor and remember the never ending list of LODD’s in our Fire Service.

The first step of properly remembering, is to remind yourself not to be “That Guy” when we see the news of the next LODD. That guy that instantly bashes the actions of a firefighter who just lost his life in a fire 2000 miles away in a building that you have never seen, on a fireground that is the same as your next one will be….FAR FROM PERFECT!! This makes me crazy, there’s a time to show respect and mourn, than at a later date there’s a time to learn lessons and critique the actions at the fire. Let me clarify; when I say critique I mean try to figure out what might help us prevent the same situation from happening to our own company. Not pretend like you have all of the answers and that it could have never happened to you. We can learn a tremendous amount from these situations and still keep the values of brotherhood and respect intact.

How else can we remember? We can start by not letting their names be the only part that we remember. They have left us extremely valuable lessons that will continue to save firefighters lives long past their untimely deaths. So many of these fires have changed the way we do business and made us very aware of the many different ways that we could potentially get ourselves into trouble. If this is your profession and you are not studying the lessons that these men and women have posthumously given us, than you are wasting a gift to the brotherhood that they paid for with their life.

It is the most expensive mentorship that we can possibly receive, and the only way for you or I to repay it to our fallen is to carry their name on by teaching and mentoring ourselves and others to the important lessons they left behind. What about the new guys in our profession who were not around when many of these events happen. How are they supposed to “Never Forget” something they never knew. It is our job to make sure they know. We cannot have minds that only draw experience from the years we have worked on this job, it needs to stretch back 100’s of years and constantly be updated with experiences that happened to men long before we were even born. Many in the fire service call this the 300 year mind. This really struck home for me recently as I was training a new guy. As we discussed the topic of the day I spoke of Charleston like it was common terminology, it took me a sentence or two before I realized my probie did not know what I was talking about. I asked, “You know about the Charleston 9 right?” He honestly answered me and confirmed he did not. At first this frustrated me and almost offended me, I thought “How could you not know about Charleston, it only happened 5 years ago”.  I realized, this was my fault not his. He was only 5 months into his career and never worked as a firefighter before this. The Charleston 9, the Worcester 6, Black Sunday, Buffalo, these all happened well before he even picked up an application for this job. These are recent fires, we are not even touching the archives of the Vendome Hotel, 23rd Street or even Brett Tarver.

Think about that as each year goes by in your career. Remember it is absolutely our responsibility to make sure these firefighters did not just leave a “Name” behind, they paid the ultimate sacrifice to the citizens and their families and gave way too much to be just names. They left legacies of mentorship to each and every one of us.


Here is a good start, if you don’t know about each and every one of these fires, and know the details and lessons learned. Take it upon yourself to make sure no one around you is clueless about these men.

Worcester Mass, Dec 3rd, 1999. Cold Storage Warehouse Fire
FF Brotherton, FF Jackson, FF Lucey, FF Lyons, FF McGuirk, Lt. Spencer,



Buffalo NY, August 24th, 2009
Lt. McCarthy, FF Croom
Charleston SC, June 18th 2007. Sofa Super Store Fire


New York City, NY. Black Sunday, January 23, 2005, also Joe DiBernardo added Nov 22nd, 2011


San Francisco, CA, June 2nd, 2011. Berkeley Way Fire



New York City, NY, August 18th 2007. Deutsche Bank Fire



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One Comment on “Never Forget, Not Just One Day A Year (Part 2)”

  1. PJ Says:

    Well said Bro.

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