Massachusetts Firefighter Killed Responding to Five-Alarm Wood-Framed Building Fire

A Massachusetts community is mourning the loss of Firefighter Christopher Roy, who perished early on Sunday battling a massive five-alarm fire. The building fire of the three-story residence quickly escalated, and firefighters were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night. Despite heroic attempts to rescue Firefighter Roy after the building collapsed in the fire, he succumbed to his injuries in the hospital, tragically leaving behind a nine-year-old daughter.

The fire on Lowell street displaced at least a dozen. Residents of the wood-framed building woke up to clouds of dark smoke in the middle of the night, some racing to other floors to help their neighbors evacuate. Families watched from parked cars in freezing cold as their building was destroyed.

This is the eighth fatality of a firefighter in just twenty years, the latest in a tragic history for the Worcester Fire Department. The community is reeling from the loss. Roy’s death happened less than a week after the 19-year anniversary of the death of six firefighters who were killed while working to put out a fire at the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse on December 3, 1999, and just one day after the 7-year anniversary of the death of firefighter Jon D. Davies who died when a burning house collapsed in 2011.

“The loss of Firefighter Chris Roy is devastating, especially for a community that has lost so much already,” said Kevin Lawlor, a spokesperson for Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association comprised of fire safety professionals, engineers, architects, community groups and industry experts committed to strengthening the nation’s building codes. “The holiday season is when we should be rejoicing with loved ones, but now one community is faced with loss and tragedy instead. Too many lives have been lost to building fires in Worcester and across the country – it’s time our building codes show the highest standards for safety, supporting more resilient construction materials instead of flammable wood. We need to learn from these tragedies because our families and our first responders deserve better.”

Build With Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), has launched a campaign to educate citizens, local and state officials, and industry experts about the inherent dangers of wood-framed construction, particularly in multi-story, residential and commercial buildings. As a grassroots organization, they work with local elected officials and industry workers, from architects to project managers to advocate for the safety benefits of working with concrete-based construction.

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