WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - People from across the commonwealth came together on Sunday to attend the wake of a heroic Worcester fire lieutenant who died in the line of duty.
Hundreds of fellow firefighters lined the street outside the Mercadante Funeral Home during visiting hours for Lt. Jason Menard on Sunday.
“Any firefighter fatality, it changes you. It changes your life, no matter who you are” said Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie at the wake. “I want to thank the men and women of the Worcester Fire department who come to work every single day to do their jobs with heavy hearts and tremendous sadness right now.”
“I know I speak for every single citizen when I say how proud we are of them and how we mourn with them our heart bleeds with them and how we’ll be with them,” said City Manager Ed Augustus.
Menard and his team entered a burning home at 7 Stockholm St. around 1 a.m. on Wednesday in search of a reported trapped resident and baby, Lavoie said.
The firefighters from Ladder 5 gained entry into the third floor, where they became trapped by raging flames. The flames overtook the third floor and Menard was unable to escape because he put the lives of his crew members before his own.
The 39-year-old lieutenant, who had served on the Worcester Fire Department since 2010, leaves behind a wife and three children
“He was a passionate fire officer who absolutely loved being a firefighter,” Lavoie said. “He took his job very seriously, performed it admirably, and his dedication to the residents of Worcester was unwavering.”
On Saturday a tribute touched down in Worcester Regional Airport.
JetBlue normally does not fly this particular aircraft into this airport but they made an exception Saturday after receiving a special request from a firefighter hoping to honor Lt. Menard.
The jet is named “Blue Bravest” wrapped in red to honor the firefighters who died while saving others on Sept. 11, 2001.
Jowel Grzyb, a firefighter in Webster, reached out to the airline knowing that the plane’s arrival in the heartbroken city would offer a fitting tribute.
“After a tragedy like that, you know, a couple days afterward, it’s just something as small as a plane like that coming in with the FDNY livery on it,” he said. “It just takes your mind off it for a little while.”
Menard’s funeral will be held Monday morning at St. John’s Catholic Church, following a private family procession from the funeral home. Those attending the funeral are asked to go directly to the church.
Officials say they are expecting firefighters from across the country to attend Monday morning’s funeral.
The city of Worcester has set up a memorial fund in Menard’s honor to help support his family and three children.
“I’m honored and humbled to really thank the people of Worcester, the state of Massachusetts and across the country for all their support,” said Worcester Mayor Joe Petty.
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