Thousands pay respects to fallen Worcester firefighter
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Thousands of firefighters from Worcester and elsewhere turned out Saturday to honor a fallen city firefighter who died battling an early morning house fire last weekend.
A procession of firefighters, fire trucks, and bag pipers made its way through city streets to St. John’s Catholic Church for the funeral of 36-year-old firefighter Christopher Roy. His casket, draped in a blue flag, was placed atop the Worcester Fire Department’s Engine 5.
Other uniformed firefighters solemnly lined the streets in formation, saluting the casket as it passed by.
Rev. Walter Riley, the Worcester Fire Department’s chaplain, spoke at the funeral service, telling mourners that Roy was someone whose home was filled with happiness.
“He was a guy who was the rock of his family,” said Riley, adding how Roy was “a guy who wanted to perform his job so badly, and did all he needed to do in a stellar way to get on the fire department.”
Three firefighters who worked with Roy, a two-and-a-half-year veteran, said he was not just a friend to them and their families, but also a brother.
Telegram.com reported that an overflow of mourners watched the funeral on TV monitors. Some firefighters listened in the church parking lot to the service from outdoor speakers.
Roy had become trapped in the burning building while searching for residents in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 9. He was rescued by fellow fighters but later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Shrewsbury resident was a single father who leaves behind his 9-year-old daughter Ava and other family members. A fund to benefit his daughter has been set up through the Worcester Fire Department Credit Union.
His death had come days after Worcester marked 19 years since six city firefighters were killed battling a warehouse fire on Dec. 3, 1999. Another Worcester firefighter died in the line of duty on Dec. 8, 2011.
“This is a difficult day for the Worcester Fire Department and particularly painful as this is the week we remember and mourn the passing of Worcester firefighter Jon Davies and the six who perished in the Cold Storage Warehouse fire,” Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said during a Dec. 9 news conference at fire headquarters.