Most area fire departments are preparing for a solemn trip to Worcester, Mass., Saturday to attend the funeral of Christopher Roy, a firefighter who died while battling a five-alarm blaze Dec. 9.
Firefighters throughout the country are known to attend funerals of others who have died in the line of duty.
Several area departments will be headed to Worcester’s St. John’s Catholic Church early Saturday morning for a display of solidarity with Roy, his family and friends, and the firefighting profession.
“This hits home for us,” New Britain Fire Chief Raul Ortiz said. “The makeup of their city is similar to the makeup of ours. Life is fragile for us and Worcester has been hit with some tragedies.”
Firefighters across eastern Massachusetts honored Roy as his body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Boston Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Firefighters, first responders and ordinary citizens lined the route and left flowers outside Roy’s fire station Monday.
Roy died fighting a fast-moving fire at an apartment building early Sunday. There were no reports of injuries to tenants.
The 36-year-old single father of a 9-year-old girl was a 2½-year veteran of the Worcester Fire Department, AP said.
The fire that killed Roy occurred just a few days after the city marked the 19h anniversary of the death of six firefighters working to put out a fire in a vacant warehouse. The Worcester department also lost a firefighter on Dec. 8, 2011, in an apartment fire.
“We want to support our fellow firefighters in Worcester,” Ortiz said.
New Britain-based Dattco Inc. has donated a bus. New Britain firefighters will be joined on board by firefighters from Bristol, West Hartford and Southington, Ortiz said. The bus driver has also donated his time.
Dattco is also donating buses to transport firefighters from Hartford and Stamford, said the company’s chief operating officer, Cliff Gibson.
“We’re a New Britain-based company,” Gibson said. “When they called, we didn’t want to say no. We like to help when we can. We have a bus from each of these communities going. Many of our drivers have stepped forward and donated their time, although they didn’t have to. We have many good people who work here.”
Firefighters in Newington and Berlin are also looking to make the trip.
“We try to go whenever possible,” said Newington Chief Chris Schroeder. “We went to Worcester in 1999 and we went to Hartford when firefighter (Kevin) Bell died. If the guys want to go, we allow them to go. We try to pay our respects to the department and the family. It’s our responsibility to look out for one another.”
Information from The Associated Press was included in this story.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.