WORCESTER (CBS) – The Worcester Fire Department will present a new report to City Council Wednesday night, calling for immediate action after the death of Lt. Jason Menard in 2019.
November will mark two years since Menard’s line-of-duty death.
A 248-page report by Emergency Services Consulting International released Monday found a poor internal communications system and on-scene management and called for a change in leadership structure.
“The fact that we’ve lost so many firefighters and it took this long-is a shame but it’s here now,” said Worcester Firefighters Local 1009 president Michael Papagni.
Lt. Menard was killed while responding to a house fire in 2019 as firefighters got trapped inside. Menard was able to lead others to safety, but never made it out himself. He was just 39 years old.
Papagni worked with Manard, and called him a “great person, man and father.”
The union president said he agrees with the report that changes are needed in the department.
“We welcomed the independent study from the beginning,” he said. “And the findings didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know … that we need to grow.”
The report calls for appointing an assistant city manager or fire commissioner to take over once current fire chief Michael Lavoie retires early next year.
“I would say the main issue if you really boil it down-is manpower,” Papagni said. “We need manpower on our trucks, manpower in our training division that can develop and then implement new advanced practices for firefighter safety. We need manpower in our prevention department that can serve the public and prevent fires.”
Despite the changes he feels are necessary, Papagni said he does feel safe on the job.
“Yes I do. We work very hard we have a lot of very talented people on the Worcester Fire Department and we work as safely as possible in an inherently unsafe profession,” he said.
Papgni hopes what’s to come from this report will honor the bravery of the nine firefighters the department has already lost in just two decades.
“It shows that we will never forget them and that we will never forget them. And we will work to make sure that we don’t have an additional firefighter life lost,” Papagni said.
Papagni says several steps have already been taken, and he plans to go before the City Council to discuss the report further Wednesday night.