WORCESTER (CBS) – Even as they grieve the loss of a friend and comrade, Worcester firefighters have been working long hours. “It’s not something you can stop. You know firefighters are here 24-7, 365 days a year,” said retired Lt. John Griffin.
He’s part of a group of retired Worcester firefighters who’ll be back on the job Saturday, Manning all of the city’s 12 fire stations.
“Might have to dust off the cobwebs a little bit and say, ‘where is that street again?’”
They’ll be joined by 80 firefighters from 25 towns, filling in so Worcester firefighters can focus on grieving and honoring their fallen fellow firefighter Christopher Roy.
“They need to take a step back for at least a day,” said Auburn Fire Chief Stephen Coleman, who helped organize the massive mutual aid effort. “When we suffer a loss, regardless of whether it was our community, we all suffer that loss, because we know what the job is.”
Griffin said it brings back the pain Worcester firefighters have suffered in the past. He was on the job when six of his fellow firefighters were killed in the cold storage and warehouse fire, and also when firefighter Jon Davies died in a building collapse seven years ago.
“It kind of opens up those old wounds, you know?” Griffin said. “You kind of put in the back of your mind because you go back to work, you try and get it done, but you’re always thinking of those guys.”
Mutual aid firefighters who step in at times like this are called “pilots” in the industry. They plan to take over Worcester shifts at 7am Saturday and work a full 25 hours until Sunday morning.