WORCESTER, Mass. (WPRI) — The Worcester Fire Department is mourning the loss of one of its members whose heroic actions helped two of his fellow firefighters escape a raging fire overnight.
Lt. Jason Menard joined the department in 2010 and leaves behind a wife and three children, according to fire officials.
“He was a passionate fire officer who absolutely loved being a firefighter,” Chief Michael Lavoie said. “He took his job very seriously, performed it admirably, and his dedication to the residents of Worcester was unwavering.”
Michael Papagni, president of the Worcester firefighters’ union, said Menard and his family were planning to leave for Disney World later on Wednesday.
“They are now instead planing a hero’s sendoff,” he said. “As always, our Worcester firefighters will stand strong by that family and we will send off Jason as he deserved and as he earned.”
Lavoie said Menard and other members of Ladder 5 were first on scene after flames broke out on the second floor of the multi-family home on Stockholm Street and extended to the third floor. Upon learning that a resident and a baby were trapped inside, the crew entered the home in an effort to rescue them.
After gaining entry, the firefighters became trapped by heavy fire conditions on the third floor, according to Lavoie. The chief said Menard “heroically and selflessly saved his crew – helping a probationary firefighter to the stairs and then returning to rescue another trapped firefighter, assisting him out the window,” but he was unable to escape himself.
Lavoie said other responding crews did everything they could to save Menard but he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty noted the loss is especially poignant as the 20-year anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage fire that claimed the lives of six firefighters approaches.
“Every day, our firefighters selflessly risk their lives without a second thought,” Petty said. “It is an incredible act of heroism, dedication, and devotion.”
Three other firefighters on Wednesday were taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center, Lavoie said. One is in serious but stable condition while the other two have since been treated and released.
A spokesperson for the city said a woman who was inside the home suffered serious injuries but the baby is OK and currently under observation. All other occupants have been accounted for and were unhurt.
The Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross said it’s assisting 10-15 residents who were displaced by the fire.
Despite having to also battle frigid cold temperatures and high winds, crews were able to keep the flames from spreading to neighboring homes.
The cause is now being investigated by the Worcester Fire and Police Departments, as well as the state fire marshal’s office.
Worcester firefighters had to get right back to work and respond around 10:30 a.m. to a fire at a commercial building on Pleasant Street.