".....before Firefighter McNamara
is buried...the "career" vs. "volunteer" stuff starts".......
Chief Billy Goldfeder
Lancaster, MA Firefighter Martin McNamara
will be laid to rest tomorrow, following services at Saint John's Church
in Clinton, Mass. FF McNamara was killed fighting a house fire just a few
NOTE: ALL FIREFIGHTERS: CAREER, CALL AND
VOLUNTEER WERE WELCOME TO THE FUNERAL..
We added that "welcome" part just in case
there is any confusion that it is a CALL FIREFIGHTERS, or a VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS
funeral and visitation only. After all-so many of our "Brothers and Sisters"
get so confused on this issue.
Even before Firefighter Martin McNamara
is buried-the "career vs volunteer" crap started. It's no secret that TRAINING
can make the biggest difference in a firefighter, a company officer, a
chief officer or an incident commander's ability to have a positive, versus
not so positive, outcome at a fire. Good-glad we got that out of the way.
It is also no secret that there are career
firefighters who are much better trained than some volunteer or call firefighters.
And-it is no secret that there are some volunteer firefighters who are
much better trained than some career firefighters. Do MOST career firefighters
get more and better training than most volunteer firefighters do, nationally?
Probably. Since the majority of our nation's population is protected by
career firefighters-odd's are there is more time and resources to get more
training done-but not always. Sometimes-in career situations, there is
no time or funding for training-or, it just doesn't happen. Within a couple
hour drive of us are several large city career FD's...each handles training
totally differently. Actually-some don't have any regular training-just
like some volunteer fire departments. And one career FD near here-has regular
and very aggressive training at the department and company level....just
like some volunteer FD's...and another-has an excellent training program-and
some of their Battalion Chiefs make sure the program gets done and some
of them don't-and some of the Company Officers make sure it gets done-and
some don't. Some actually fudge the training reports (Can you IMAGINE!?)....just
like some volunteer FD's. Sounds familiar.
As far as the career, call or volunteer
issue nationally-without a doubt and in my observation-the I.A.F.F. is
the best organization looking out for their members health and safety.
Well before it became "popular" to get into firefighter safety issues-the
I.A.F.F. was working on it on behalf of their members. And even though
they did it for the appropriate and understandable benefit of their Union
members-ALL firefighters gained from it. Make no mistake about it-many
of today's safety standards that protect career, call and volunteer firefighters
got there due to the serious support and aggressive push from the I.A.F.F.
There is no other "firefighter" organization looking out for call or volunteer
firefighters nationally in the same manner. Most national groups or sections
representing volunteer or call firefighters are too busy fighting amongst
themselves to get anything directly effecting their memberships health
and safety done. It's been that way for years.
Now-the headlines in the Boston area,
as the start of an article (shown below) about the death of FF McNamara
"Firefighter Training Questioned-Call,
Volunteer Firefighters Defend Their Abilities"
It's the old issue of career firefighters,
call firefighters and volunteer firefighters and their training. I can't
stand this issue. Are ALL career firefighters better trained than all call
or volunteer firefighters? Oh wait-we already covered that.
SO what's the point of all this? Simple.
Odd's are, MOST FD's need to improve their fire training in LARGE amounts.
Career, volunteer, call---whatever. You just can't label it without looking
at each specific FD, region, battalion or firehouse. If at the local level,
officers focused on the training needed for their members-and we are talking
about STRUCTURAL FIREFIGHTING TRAINING including the RESPONSE to those
incidents, we could reduce the injury and deaths. Have applicable training
on every shift or drill night...train on every occasion w/o whiney
excuses. Don't drive like an idiot....wear seatbelts...look before backing....have
enough staffing to get all the tasks done...........no big secrets.
Fixing stuff like that makes the problem
get smaller. And the problem exists. You can have a great department training
program and it takes one lazy or clueless company officer to make it not
happen or you can have no department training-but a good company officer
has a program anyway. Saying career, volunteer or call firefighters are
"ALWAYS" anything is like saying that all politicians have our best interests
But, from our standpoint-the real issue
is that Firefighter Marty McNamara has not yet been laid to rest...but
yet his wife, kids and relatives have to read this (see 1st article below)
while still trying to deal with their horrible loss. The career, volunteer
and call issue isn't the issue today. If Michelle Lucey-widow of Worcester
(career) Firefighter Jeremiah Lucy can "reach out" to the widow of Lancaster
(call) Firefighter Marty McNamara, Claire McNamara, why do we have so much
trouble doing it? Maybe only "volunteer or call windows" should be reaching
out to her...and "career widows" only reach out to newly created career
Sound stupid? It is supposed to.
Self serving "feeds" to the media raising
question before qualified investigators determine WHY a firefighter died
does nothing to help any cause, group or interest. Some may blame the media...but
the media can't create this if they are only given supportive, positive
and comforting comments. Self serving poorly timed comments: It could almost
lead a reader to interpret that the death of this firefighter would be
a good thing to help further a specific cause. When a firefighter dies-a
firefighter dies. Political or self serving stuff can wait.
Firefighter's training questioned
Call, volunteer workers defend their abilities
By John McElhenny and Douglas Belkin,
Globe Correspondent And Globe Staff, 12/1/2003
LANCASTER -- Martin McNamara worked a full-time
job at a drilling company, but he wanted so badly to be a firefighter that
he took night and weekend classes at the state firefighting academy to
hone his skills and knowledge, a colleague said yesterday.
But like other call or voluntary firefighters
with full-time jobs, McNamara had not taken the 12-week training program
at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Stow that many of the state's
firefighting recruits attend, said Lancaster firefighter Mike Hanson.
Hanson, 32, a call firefighter for 14 years
who helped train McNamara, said their training had nothing to do with McNamara's
death while fighting a fire Saturday.
While the president of a state professional
firefighters group questioned whether part-time firefighters are qualified
to do the job, Hanson and others countered that volunteer firefighters
go through training that is just as rigorous, and they are just as qualified
as full-time firefighters. The only difference is their off-duty schedule,
Full-time firefighters "work at the station
eight hours or 12 hours a day, and we're on call 24-7," said Hanson, who
works full-time at a military contracting company in Devens. "When the
bell goes off, we respond." Just under half of the state's estimated 21,000
firefighters are volunteer or call firefighters. Though some do not go
through the state academy in Stow, volunteers have to be certified with
190 hours of training on such topics as hydraulics and how fires start,
according to the Massachusetts Call Volunteer Firefighter Association.
McNamara, a father of two from Clinton
whose wife is pregnant, died in the basement of a multi-unit house on Mill
Street after thick smoke prevented other firefighters from reaching him.
He had celebrated his 31st birthday Friday.
Two firefighters from Clinton, Edward McNamara,
who is not related to the victim, and Terrence Parker, were hospitalized
for injuries sustained in the blaze. They were released Saturday. A third
Clinton firefighter, John McLaughlin, was taken to UMass Memorial Medical
Center in Worcester, where his condition was upgraded from serious to good,
a spokeswoman said last night.
None of the building's six tenants were
At the scene yesterday, state Fire Marshal
Stephen D. Coan said investigators were focusing on what caused the blaze,
not on McNamara's training or equipment.
There was no reason to believe that a full-time
firefighter would have survived, said Steven Hilliger, chairman of the
Lancaster Board of Selectmen and a call fireman since 1986.
"What happened in the basement of that
house could happen to any firefighter in the state," said Hilliger.
Firefighters in Lancaster are paid per
call, with their pay varying based on the length of the call and their
seniority as a firefighter, Hilliger said. Officials planned to meet with
the town's insurance company today to determine a range of benefit options
for McNamara's family.
Coan said call and volunteer firefighters
are particularly important in the state's rural areas.
Massachusetts has a high percentage of
full-time firefighters compared with other states, Coan said. Most departments
in Massachusetts use the EMS system that requires a high level of training.
Massachusetts has no statewide mandatory training standard for firefighters.
Thomas Burnett, vice president of the Massachusetts
Call/ Volunteer Firefighter Association Inc., said the 190 hours of training
required of volunteer firefighters include topics studied by permanent
firefighters, including sprinkler systems, hydraulics, alarm systems, water
flow, and the stages of a fire.
"We do the same job as permanent firefighters,"
Burnett said. "We have all the same skills and the same training."
Massachusetts has about 9,000 call and
volunteer firefighters and 12,000 professional firefighters, according
to figures from the volunteer firefighter association and the Professional
Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Some firefighters belong to neither organization.
Robert McCarthy, president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts,
said volunteer firefighters with full-time jobs in other fields don't have
the same training as full-time firefighters whose specialized skills extend
to terrorism and the handling of hazardous materials.
McCarthy stressed that McNamara was a hero
who died trying to save others.
McNamara, whose father and grandfather
were former Clinton selectmen, was remembered yesterday as a fun-loving,
light-hearted man who loved his job and family. He leaves his wife, Claire,
and two daughters, Molli, 5, and Elizabeth, 2.
A wake will be held today at the Philbin
Comeau Funeral Home in Clinton and a funeral Mass is planned for tomorrow
in St. John's Church in Clinton.
Grieving for a hero: Firefighters' widows
gather to help devastated family
By Thomas Caywood and Jennifer Rosinski
Monday, December 1, 2003-BostonHerald.Com
Standing a few yards from where her volunteer
firefighter husband died in a wind-whipped house inferno, Claire McNamara
doubled over in unimaginable grief yesterday.
The new widow,
whose third baby is due any day, could stand the sight of the gutted apartment
house only briefly - its rafters exposed like a charred skeleton - before
she rushed into the arms of a woman bystanders identified as an old friend.
she is ready we are waiting for her,'' said Michelle Lucey, speaking for
herself and the four other widows of the 1999 Worcester cold storage fire.
know Martin ``Marty Mac'' McNamara, who died early Saturday hours after
his 31st birthday, but she knows Claire McNamara's pain all too well. Fire
claimed her husband Jeremiah and five other Worcester firefighters on Dec.
I heard about the Lancaster fire my heart saddened for the people who are
left behind with the burden of pain I have to live with and my children
have to live with,'' she said.
Claire McNamara held her friend tightly and sobbed uncontrollably yesterday
for a full minute before they slipped into separate cars and drove off.
The grieving widow left with her husband's parents, Martin and Joanne McNamara
of Clinton, to plan the funeral.
widows who came to Lucey's side after the Worcester fire helped her realize
she had to move on with her life - for herself and her two sons.
``When your husband
is taken away you feel like everything is over,'' Lucey said. ``It gives
you hope seeing that other people have gone through it and made it through.''
Deputy Fire Chief John McLaughlin, who was overcome by smoke trying to
reach McNamara in the blazing basement, remained hospitalized yesterday
in stable condition with thermal burns and smoke inhalation, State Fire
Marshal Stephen Coan said.
``He will be
there for some time,'' Coan said. Two other Clinton firefighters were treated
and released from a local hospital Saturday.
firefighter Michael Hanson, who had served as McNamara's training officer
when he first joined the department three years ago, yesterday recalled
his fallen comrade as an easy-going guy with a great sense of humor.
``He'll be remembered
as a great guy, a great firefighter,'' Hanson told reporters. ``He always
thought about his kids and wife, and he loved doing this job.''
Hanson said his
fellow Lancaster call firefighters are leaning on each other to get through
the tragic loss of their brother jake.
``Be there for
each other, that's all we can really do,'' he said.
McNamara is survived
by children Molli, 5, and Elizabeth, 2. Claire McNamara, a nail beautician
and high school cheerleading coach, is nine months pregnant with the couple's
day yesterday, red-eyed Lancaster volunteer firefighters stood silently
on the street in front of the gutted three-story house on Mill Street while
residents of Lancaster and Clinton drifted up to the scene to pay their
``He was an athlete
and a loving father,'' recalled Jack Gorman of Clinton, who coached a young
McNamara on Clinton's Legion baseball team.
``It's a shock.
It's a tragedy,'' Gorman said. ``He was just such a great kid. It was always
about somebody else, never himself.''
for McNamara will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Saint John's Church in
Clinton. Calling hours are today from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9
p.m. at the Philbin Comeau Funeral Home in Clinton.
The family has
established The Martin ``Marty'' McNamara Memorial Fund at Leominster Credit
Union in Clinton.