Officials seek to toughen state laws after deadly 2014 Boston brownstone fire

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

Four years after Lt. Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy died in a devastating nine-alarm blaze that ripped through a brownstone on Beacon Street, officials discussing whether or not laws on what are called “hotworks” should be made tougher.

Hotworks are jobs that include welding and cutting during industrial jobs that could create sparks and fire.

“The state has updated regulations,” Sen. Nick Collins said. ” We want to make sure the statute is beefed up so it can’t unravel with a new administration.”

The fatal blaze was started by two welders who were working on an iron handrail next-door.

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 want them to be a permanent part of state law.

“The fact that that fire escalated to the degree it did, it’s just indicative of what can happen when people aren’t operating safely on a construction site,” Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn said. “It cost two firefighters their lives.”

Monday’s meeting was the first of two slated for this week. The families of Walsh and Kennedy are expected to testify Wednesday.

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

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