Boston Fire honors fallen firefighter on 11-year anniversary of tragic death

Boston Fire honors fallen firefighter on 11-year anniversary of tragic death

BOSTON — On Thursday the Boston Fire Department marked the 11-year anniversary of a tragedy that claimed the life of one of their own. Lieutenant Kevin Kelly was killed when his fire truck lost its brakes and crashed into a high-rise.

His death led to major changes within the department, such as those in how fire trucks are maintained in the city of Boston.

“That day was cold like it is today,” one firefighter said. “And you know, time flies. They say the days are long but the years are short.”

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The accident happened 11 years ago in Mission Hill.

“It was a tragedy that should have been avoided,” said Commissioner Joe Finn of Boston Fire.

Lt. Kevin Kelly was killed in 2009 when Ladder 27 crashed into a high-rise. The truck had lost its brakes traveling down Parker Hill Avenue toward Huntington Ave. It couldn't stop.

“You think back to where you were then to where we are now with our apparatus,” Commissioner Finn said. “It’s remarkable the transformation that’s taken place.”

Commissioner Finn says Kelly did not die in vain. The crash revealed critical issues with Boston fire truck maintenance: inadequate training and firefighters responsible for truck repairs. Now the city uses only licensed mechanics.

The Boston Fire Department told Boston 25 News that under Mayor Marty Walsh's administration, $31 million has been invested to replace front line apparatus over the last six years.

“He was a truly dedicated firefighter, fire officer that truly cared about his men,” Commissioner Finn said. “There are a lot of firefighters and captains that are who they are now because of Kevin’s tutelage.”

“I don’t even have any words for everybody standing out here today,” said Susan Kelly, Kevin’s daughter.

Kelly's family stood alongside firefighters Thursday in their tradition of 'never forget.'

“I miss him every day, but I think it’s great that everybody still gets together once a year in this cold weather to celebrate him and to honor him,” Susan said.

Susan is also carrying on her father’s legacy. She’s a Boston Fire alarm dispatcher and a third-generation member of the Boston Fire Department.