Area firefighters will join their brothers and sisters throughout the state to mourn the loss of a Worcester firefighter who perished in a blaze Sunday.
Firefighters plan to attend a wake Friday night at St. John’s Catholic Church in Worcester and a funeral at the church Saturday.
Christopher Roy, 36, the father of a 9-year-old daughter, died while battling a five-alarm, early morning fire at an apartment building.
He is the eighth Worcester firefighter to die in the line of duty in 19 years, and his death comes on the 19th anniversary of the loss of six firefighters in the 1999 Cold Storage Fire. The department was also commemorating the loss of a firefighter killed in a blaze in 2011.
Plainville Fire Chief Justin Alexander said Wednesday he could not begin to know what the Worcester department is going through, but knows it is devastating.
“I hope never to go through it. It’s a fire chief’s worst nightmare,” Alexander said, adding that he knows fire chiefs who have lost firefighters during their careers.
“All you can do is offer all the support you can when this type of tragedy happens. I know it’s tough. I know a few fire chiefs who have gone through it,” Alexander said.
Despite improvements in firefighting equipment and practices over the years, Alexander said no one is immune to the dangers the job brings.
“It’s a terrible tragedy. It can happen to anybody, anytime, anywhere. Big or small,” Alexander said.
Even while mourning, Worcester firefighters battled a three-alarm, multi-family dwelling blaze early Wednesday morning. Two firefighters suffered back and ankle injuries and were taken to the hospital.
In Attleboro, firefighters initially planned to take buses to the wake and funeral in Worcester, but that plan changed for logistical reasons so many will carpool instead, fire Capt. David Hardman said.
After the six firefighters perished in the 1999 blaze at the abandoned Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse, fire departments throughout the state began purchasing thermal imaging cameras, Hardman said. The cameras allow firefighters to detect heat sources and fire inside walls.
But even with improvements in technology, he said, the dangers are still present.
“It can get confusing in a fire. It can become completely black and you can’t see anybody. You may think you’re in a room with a home office but it could turn out to be a child’s bedroom,” Hardman said.
Roy became a Worcester firefighter in 2016 after working for many years for a construction company. He had a degree in business management.
Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to The Ava Roy Fund c/o Worcester Fire Department Credit Union, 34 Glennie St., Worcester, MA 01605.