WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - City officials have released the results of an independent investigation into the Worcester Fire Department.

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus, Jr. along with leadership within the Worcester Fire Department requested an independent and thorough review of the department back in January 2020, about two months following the tragic death of fire Lt. Jason Menard, who saved his crew from a four-alarm blaze that engulfed a home hours before he was supposed to leave on a Disney vacation with his family.

Emergency Services Consulting International conducted the review, which was significantly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Augustus wrote in a letter to the Worcester City Councilor on Tuesday.

ESCI determined in their report that the culture of the department has to change, making clear that firefighters are seeking strong leadership, greater accountability, and more training, Augustus continued.

The report outlines a series of recommendations for the department, including basic incident command training for all members, revamping outdated policies, changing the structure of leadership within the department after the current chief retires, and adopting a new method of internal communication.

“Some of the recommendations can and will be implemented with expediency; others will take more time, effort and resources,” Augustus wrote. “With the help of ESCI, the Department will start the process of developing a strategic plan to prioritize the recommendations in this Master Plan and set the direction of the Department for the next three to five years.”

Augustus added that his administration will work closely with leadership within the department and Local 1009 to implement improvements.

“We have a tremendous Fire Department that has faced unimaginable challenges, saved countless lives, and responds each and every day to crises big and small across our City,” Augustus wrote. “The men and women of the Worcester Fire Department are dedicated and passionate about their jobs. They love this City and the people they serve. We owe it to them to make sure they have all the support and tools they need to do the job we ask and expect them to do. That is the goal of this report, and that is our ultimate commitment to them.”

The full report can be read here.

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