WORCESTER, Mass. (WPRI) — Firefighters from around the country made their way to Worcester on Monday to pay tribute to a fallen brother who died a hero last week.
Lt. Jason Menard, 39, was laid to rest following a funeral Mass at St. John’s Catholic Church on Temple Street.
Menard died during a fire at a multi-family home on Stockholm Street. Officials said he and other members of his crew entered the burning building to save a woman and a baby trapped inside. Menard was overcome by the flames after he “heroically and selflessly” helped everyone else escape the home, according to Worcester’s fire chief.
On Sunday, hundreds lined up for Menard’s wake at Mercadante Funeral Home.
Nearly three dozen local firefighters boarded a bus in Cranston around 7:30 a.m. Monday to go say a final goodbye to Menard and show support for his family, friends and colleagues.
Lt. Kevin O’Leary said they wanted to be there for their counterparts in Worcester because what happened brings the burden of the badge back into focus.
“He paid the ultimate sacrifice to save his brothers and he got them out safe and unfortunately, he couldn’t,” O’Leary said. “So we’re going to go pay respects for our brothers and sisters in Worcester and not only to them but to his family.”
“We support one another through thick and thin,” Deputy Chief Paul Casey said. “It’s always nice to see the rest of the firefighting community from around the country has everybody else’s support.”
Menard was the ninth Worcester firefighter to die in the line of duty since 1999.
Their losses would deal a blow to any department but Worcester’s first responders don’t let the heartache cripple them, and O’Leary said their tenacity serves as an inspiration to him and other local firefighters.
“It’s just hard to think that a city so close has had such loss of their brothers and they still come to work and they still come home,” he said. “They do the job every day and they go home and they get to be mom and dad and then they’re right back to it. For them to continue to answer the call speaks volumes to that city and that department.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve been to Worcester a few times in the past few years and you’ll see firefighters from across the country here today to support the family of Lt. Menard. It’s important when any firefighter dies in the line of duty,” said Derek Silva, president of the Providence firefighters’ union.
Silva said 100 Providence firefighters traveled up to Worcester for the funeral, adding that every time someone dies on the job, it puts things into perspective.
“We obviously know that we have a dangerous job but when you’re out there responding to calls when you’re going into a burning building, you’re not thinking about yourself. You’re thinking about your objectives, the people you’re there to save, the fire you’re there to put out,” he said. “Then you hear the story of Lt. Menard who was going to go to Disney the next day with his wife and three children, and now he’s not there to do that with them anymore. And it just, for all of us that have young children, that have families of our own, it really just changed the way we look at things when we respond to these incidents.”
Menard joined the department in 2010 and leaves behind a wife and three children.
Donations for Menard’s family are being accepted on the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts Foundation’s website and can be mailed to:
Worcester Fire Department Credit Union
34 Glennie St.
Worcester, MA 01605
Checks should be made payable to PFFM Foundation c/o The Menard Children’s Fund.