Legacy of the Worcester 6 firefighters lives on 18 years after the deadly fire

WORCESTER, Mass.  - It's been 18 years since the Worcester Six died fighting a warehouse fire, but their legacy lives on in the hearts of those who paid tribute to their sacrifice on Sunday night.

On the eighteenth anniversary of the devastating fire, like every year, people from all over the region came to show their respect to the six men who were killed in the line of duty.

Even though its been nearly two decades, many say they are still haunted by what happened on Dec. 3, 1999.

"They say time heals all wounds," said Chief LaVoie. "But every December for all of us at the fire department it really opens all those wounds."

Exactly 18 years ago, firefighters in Worcester received a call for a fire at an abandoned warehouse at 266 Franklin Street.

That call forever changed all of their lives when Thomas Spencer. Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey, James Lyons and Joseph McGuirk lost their lives attempting to save others.

The six brave men were killed when they went into the five alarm blaze, trying to rescue two people who were believed to be trapped inside.

"It's been 18 years but it still hurts, it hurts like it was yesterday," Chief LaVoie said.

Joseph McGuirk's sister Joan vividly remembers standing in front of the building waiting for word on her brother.

“We came here night and day and stayed until one or two in the morning some days waiting for the bodies to be recovered, my brother wasn't recovered until the following Friday after the fire," Joan said.

Joan also remembers the support they received from the community, and how important it is that nearly two decades later that same support is still there.

"Same type of support all across that you see here today - they just haven't forgotten," Joan said.

The Franklin Street Fire Station was built about a decade ago at the site of the blaze with a memorial to the six men in front.

Thier legacy continues at many of the city's fire stations as well.

Come March, five out of six of Paul Brotherton's sons will be Worcester firefighters. They're just a few of the public servants inspired by the heroic actions of the Worcester 6 - and uplifted by the support of a community.

"It's just amazing and it keeps us going and it keeps us strong so we can continue to do our job as dangerous as it is," said Chief LaVoie.

Sadly, this is just one of the two memorials that the Worcester Fire Department has planned this week. On Friday, the department will honor John Davies, a 17-year veteran firefighter who died while searching for a missing person in a burning building in 2011.