Worcester Firefighters honored

It was a moving scene at the Hanover Theatre this afternoon for the Massachusetts Firefighter of the Year Award Ceremony. Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray handed out awards for Meritorious Service, Valor and the Medal of Honor, posthumously, to Boston Fire Lt. Kevin Kelley. This was a tough one. Kelley was the officer on Ladder 26 being driven back to the station after a call when brakes failed. The truck careened through the streets before crashing into a brick high-rise, killing him and injuring the other firefighters on board. Kelley’s wife and two of his daughters were on hand to accept the award.

But most of the audience was there for the 10-year remembrance of the six Worcester firefighters who were killed in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire on Dec. 3, 1999. The firefighters’ families were recognized with a standing ovation, and scenes from the fire and the aftermath were flashed on the screen set up at the back of the stage.

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, accepted the State Fire Marshal’s Award for Excellence in Leadership on his behalf. Sen. Kennedy spoke at the Dec. 11, 1999, memorial ceremony in the Centrum, and some of that speech was replayed.

Victoria Kennedy, in her remarks, said, “Even if [Kennedy] hadn’t won this award, he would have been here today. That’s why I’m here.” (Applause.)

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