Firefighters in Watertown, Massachusetts are showing their respect and paying tribute to Joseph Toscano, the firefighter who died battling a 2-alarm blaze on Friday.
A procession was held on Saturday in Toscano’s honor. The firefighters who fought alongside him saluted his body as he left Mount Auburn Hospital and departed toward the medical examiner’s office in Boston. From Boston the procession continued as Toscano made his final trip home to Randolph. Firefighters showed their support by getting out of their trucks and walking the final stretch to the Cartwright Funeral Home where Toscano’s family was waiting.
"It's a sad day for everybody," said Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn on Friday after learning of Toscano’s death. "This is a loss. A day like this is just not a good day here in Watertown."
Toscano was a beloved member of the community. Neighbors say they were devastated to learn the news of his death and will miss his always present smile.
“We know everybody in town and when you get news like something like that happened, especially someone with family, it hits home because it’s all familiar faces,” said Steven Eskici.
The fire was first reported around 10:16 a.m. on Merrifield Avenue. Police were the first on scene and were able to get two people and several pets out of the home safely. Fire officials said that heavy flames were showing when they arrived at the scene.
According to Watertown Deputy Fire Chief Bob Quinn, Toscano was working inside the fire area when he collapsed. He was brought outside by his fellow firefighters and transported to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, where he was later pronounced dead. Officials said it appears Toscano might have suffered a heart attack. The 54-year old was a 21 year veteran of the Watertown Fire Department. He leaves behind a wife and five children.
"He left this morning to go to work like he did every day," Quinn said. "We all know the dangers. We never expect this day to happen, but it happened, unfortunately."
Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said the fire started on the second floor and was contained to one room. The cause remains under investigation.
Ostroskey called Toscano’s death a tremendous blow to the Watertown Fire Department. "It's a very close group of people, a very tight-knit city,” he said. “This is a terrible, terrible loss."
"Everybody's devastated," added firefighter’s union president Rob Mannix. "Keep him in your prayers - Joe Toscano, father first, a great fireman. He's going to be missed."
A fund has been set up to benefit Toscano’s family.
Donations may be sent to the following address:
Watertown Firefighters Relief Association
99 Main St.
Watertown, MA 02472