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James F. Lyons


Members of the Worcester Fire Department responded to a fire in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse. The building was a windowless six story structure. Upon arrival at the scene, firefighters found a large warehouse with light smoke conditions and a fire on the second floor. Search and rescue and fire attack operations were initiated. Within seconds, conditions in the fire building changed and thick black smoke reduced visibility to zero. All Fire Department personnel were ordered down from upper floors and a head count was taken. The head count revealed that two firefighters were not accounted for. A “Mayday” radio transmission was received from Firefighter Brotherton indicating that he and Firefighter Lucey, both of Rescue One, were lost and running out of air. A search for the trapped firefighters was initiated with eighteen firefighters searching for the two that were lost. Lieutenant Spencer, Firefighter Jackson, Firefighter McGuirk, and Firefighter Lyons entered the fifth floor to conduct a search. Contact with the team was lost and all six firefighters perished. Although it has not been released yet, NIOSH is conducting a review of this incident. The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, the result of a knocked over candle during a domestic dispute by some transients living in the building. The transients were charged with manslaughter for failing to report the fire.
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
James F. Lyons was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Worcester Fire Department
141 Grove Street

Worcester, Massachusetts 01605

Chief: Dennis L. Budd

View NIOSH Report

Age: 34
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Career
Incident date: December 3, 1999 18:00
Date of death: December 3, 1999
Cause of fatal injury: Caught or Trapped
Nature of fatal injury: Burns
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Vacant Property

Last updated: June 13, 2012