BOSTON (CBS) – Firefighters and the Back Bay community honored Lieutenant Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy on Thursday with a tree and plaque marking the lives they lost battling a 9-alarm blaze in the neighborhood in 2014.
“We miss them at work as colleagues and friends. We miss them in life as loved ones in our hearts,” said Boston Fire Department Assistant Chaplain Father John Unni during the ceremony.
Walsh and Kennedy were part of the response to a massive blaze on Boylston Street that was believed to have started when welders working without permits modified stair railings on the building next door. The fire burned undetected and quickly moved through the ceiling. Walsh did call for water inside the building, but the fire hose had been burnt through by the fire.
“I assure you, the Boston Fire Department will never forget Ed and Mike’s sacrifice on March 26, 2014,” said Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn.
Walsh, 43, of West Roxbury was married and the father of three young children, two boys and one girl. He had been with the fire department for more than nine years. Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park, is a Marine veteran and has been with the Boston Fire Department for six years. Both were of Engine 33 and stationed at 941 Boylston St.
“Not a day goes by when our city isn’t grateful for the sacrifices your family gave to our city,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told the firefighters’ families.
The tree and plaque were donated by the Back Bay Garden Club.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report claims inadequate staffing, a lack of training for wind-swept fires and failure to judge the risks were all major factors in the tragedy.