WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Thousands gathered at St. John's Catholic Church in Worcester Monday morning for the funeral for fallen Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard.
Firefighters from across New England and around the country lined up outside the church to pay their respects in the rain, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito were in attendance.
Not a single Worcester Firefighter was on duty Monday, their shifts covered by neighboring departments so they could attend the services.
Those firefighters stepped forward and stood at attention as Menard's fire truck, Ladder 5, made its way to the church, covered in flowers and Menard's helmet and proceeded by the traditional bagpipes and drums. Menard's casket was carried on another fire truck.
Lt. Menard died after he was trapped by flames on the third floor of a burning Stockholm Street house last Wednesday. He and his fellow firefighters were reportedly searching for trapped residents, including a baby; fire officials said he died saving two other firefighters' lives.
He leaves behind a wife and three children.
He is the ninth Worcester firefighter to die in the line of duty in the past 20 years.
"I asked God to bring his spirit back, I just didn't want to do this again," Worcester Fire Chaplain Walter Riley said. "God wanted something good from Worcester, and he got it."
The brother of still-hospitalized Firefighter Christopher Pace, saved by Lt. Menard during the fire, thanked Menard during the service.
"How can you ever thank a person and family enough for their sacrifice?" Dan Pace asked. "We are still waiting to wake up from this nightmare and continue on with our lives. But unfortunately, the events that occurred are beyond our control, and we're here today honoring the bravest and most selfless man I've ever had the chance to meet."
Worcester Fire Lt. John Dwyer, delivering the eulogy, spoke more about Menard.
"Jay was the organizer," Dwyer said. "If there were gifts to be bought, Jay was the guy that got it done—so much so that when he got promoted, he actually had to buy his own hat. To a man, they also said if there was a firefighter discount out there, Jay knew where it was."
Following the service, Lt. Menard's casket was placed on a Worcester Fire truck and taken to a private burial.
Hundreds also lined up on Sunday for calling hours for Menard at Mercadante Funeral Home.
WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports