First responders show support for fallen Worcester firefighter

WORCESTER, MA – NOVEMBER 17: Fire personnel queue up to enter Mercadante Funeral Home for the wake of Lt. Jason Menard November 17, 2019 in WORCESTER, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Hundreds of first responders and community members stood through the freezing cold and snow flurries in Worcester Sunday to pay their respects to Worcester fire Lt. Jason Menard, killed last week while saving his fellow firefighters in a four-alarm blaze.

“It’s not enjoyable, it’s not enjoyable,” retired Westminster fire Lt. Ed Boruillet said after leaving the funeral home.

Boruillet got emotional when describing the bond between firefighters, recalling the memorial for the Cold Storage tragedy 20 years ago, a blaze that killed six Worcester firefighters.

“It absolutely is a brotherhood. There’s no other way to describe it,” Boruillet said. “You walk around and look at patches of where people are from, that’s the only word that can describe it.”

Menard, 39, was killed last Wednesday at an early morning house fire as he sacrificed himself to save two of his crew members as flames raged on in a multistory home. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

One of the firefighters Menard saved, Christopher Pace, remained hospitalized Friday but was in stable condition, a Worcester city spokesman said.

Members of departments from across the state and beyond stood in their dark dress uniforms in a long line, stretching across Plantation Street and then around a parking lot across the street from the funeral home. The wait to enter Mercadante Funeral Home was more than an hour long. A Worcester Fire Department member walked past every person in line, sharing handshakes and hugs.

The quiet crowd kept a somber mood as Worcester Fire Engines 4 and 5, red lights flashing and draped with American flags and black banners, idled near the home. Four horse-mounted officers stood guard through the poor weather and darkness. Worcester Police officers also worked through the evening, directing traffic through and around Plantation Street.

Matt Gauthier of Northbridge took his son, Kenny, 7, to watch the procession. He said Kenny’s grandfather and great-grandfather were firefighters.

“I said, ‘You’re cold today, it means nothing. You think about what that man went through,’ ” Gauthier said he told his son about Menard. “He’s only 7 but I think it’s important he knows what’s going on today.”

Menard’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at St. John’s Catholic Church in Worcester.