State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said yesterday that Worcester Emergency Medical Services paramedics headquartered at the former Providence Street fire station were among the first to report the fire at 49 Arlington St. that claimed the life of Firefighter Jon Davies.
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"They may not have been the first, and they may not have been the only ones to report the fire, but they have been critical in providing investigators with information about what they were first seeing," Fire Marshal Coan said, following a press conference.
He and Deputy Chief Geoffrey Gardell could not confirm that the paramedics played a role in alerting and evacuating the residents prior to the arrival of the Fire Department.
Fire Marshal Coan also did not elaborate on what the EMTs did see when they initially noticed the fire, saying it was part of the ongoing investigation.
"They are playing a critical part in the investigation, and played a critical part in reporting the fire," he said.
Worcester EMS is an ambulance service owned and operated by UMass Memorial Health Care and is under contract to provide ambulance service to the city. The city leases the station to the ambulance service.
Worcester EMS ambulances are based at the former Providence Street station, and they were in quarters and observed the fire, Fire Marshal Coan said.
The Providence Street station, nicknamed "The Rock," was closed in 2009 after serving as a fire station for 110 years. Closing the station was estimated to save the city between $85,000 and $100,000 a year in capital and operating costs. However, the measure was met with opposition from residents of the Grafton, Vernon and Union hills areas it served.
At the time, the Fire Department said fire response would not be diminished by the closing, and that sentiment was echoed yesterday by City Manager Michael V. O'Brien, who said the response to the fire was not delayed and was "under three minutes," in line with national standards.