Family of Boston firefighters killed in 2014 blaze testify on Beacon Hill

BOSTON (WHDH) - Fire officials from across the Bay State returned to Beacon Hill Wednesday to continue their push for statewide changes after two Boston firefighters were killed while battling a blaze in 2014.

Lt. Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy died in a devastating nine-alarm blaze that ripped through a brownstone on Beacon Street. Now, officials want lawmakers to strengthen the state’s “hot works” law.

Hot works are jobs that include welding and cutting during industrial jobs that could create sparks and fire. The fatal blaze was started by two welders who were working on an iron handrail next-door.

Relatives of Walsh and Kennedy also delivered emotional testimony in an effort to convince lawmakers to make changes that would help avoid future tragedies.

The most powerful moment of the hearing came when Kennedy’s mother, Kathy Crosby-Bell, asked that all of the cameras be turned off and then asked family members to leave the hearing room. She then gave State House commission members a power point presentation of an extremely graphic, minute-by-minute description of the pain and suffering the two firefighters went through when they died in the blaze.

“I’m trying to bring them to what I experience every night when I close my eyes,” she said. “No family member should ever have to experience that again.”

Walsh’s sister, Kathy Malone, also testified before the commision.

“Accidents happen. Their deaths were no accident,” she said.

Boston has since updated its rules to require special certification for people who are doing any kind of welding or cutting. While Massachusetts has made changes as well, fire officials and family members want them to be a permanent part of state law.

“A penalty shouldn’t be a slap on the wrist for those who show arrogance and disregard for ensuring the safety of all,” Malone added.

The Massachusetts Fire Service Commission is expected to issue its finding to lawmakers by Aug. 16.

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