TITLE: But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need
DATE: 11/04/2004 08:20:00 AM
My morning show was discussing this story this morning:
Lancaster voters reject pension for firefighter's family
LANCASTER, Mass. (AP) Supporters of a widow whose firefighter husband was killed on duty last November vowed not to give up efforts to gain a lifetime pension for the woman after voters rejected a referendum to pay for the family's death benefits.
A town referendum on whether to give Claire McNamara a $650,000 pension and health benefits fell short by 18 votes in Tuesday's election. There was still a chance that the proposal could still pass, because of 35 provisional ballots that remained to be counted.
''Our son lost his life serving a community, and a large number of people in our community voted not to give benefits to his wife and children,'' said Martin McNamara, the father of fallen firefighter Martin McNamara. ''I'm disappointed.''
After the votes were tallied at a community center on Tuesday, supporters cried out in disbelief, and Claire McNamara fled the building, the Boston Herald reported.
Claire McNamara's husband, part-time firefighter Martin H. McNamara, was killed on duty Nov. 29 of last year in a basement explosion of a house in Lancaster. Towns with volunteer or on-call fire departments are not required by law to pay death benefits to families of fallen firefighters. The McNamara family lived in Clinton, the next town over.
Because the proposed Lancaster benefit would have required a one-year 7 percent property tax hike, residents had to approve the increase, as voters statewide must do anytime a town wants to raise property taxes more than 2.5 percent. Lancaster, in the central part of the state, has a population of about 7,000.
The Lancaster Town Meeting agreed in March to put a question on the ballot as to whether to raise taxes to pay for the family's benefits.
Lancaster Selectman David Dunn said he was saddened by the vote.
''I just don't get it. I drove home with tears funning down my cheeks, wondering how we could provide for this lady and three children,'' Dunn said.
According to a caller, donations to the family can be made via:
McNamara Family Fund
c/o Workers' Credit Union
145 Main St.
South Lancaster, MA 01561
Their phone number for more information is (978) 368-8200.
According to WAAF, donations to the McNamara Family Fund can also go here:
Leominster Credit Union
Trust fund for the Kids
159 Mechanic St.
Clinton, MA 01510
This radio station has made the story (which also appeared on the front page of today's Herald) a personal crusade today. I listened to Mistress Carrie today on my lunch hour, and she read the incident report on McNamara's death:
Firefighter McNamara and members of his fire department responded to the scene of a structure fire involving a 2-1/2 story wood balloon-frame residential building that contained multiple apartments. Two additional 1-1/2 story buildings were attached to the rear of the main building.
Firefighters found a working fire. Firefighter McNamara was assigned as part of a crew that advanced an attack line into the basement of the structure. After a series of explosions, the firefighters were forced to leave the building.
Once outside, a head count was completed and Firefighter McNamara was discovered missing. Firefighters immediately reentered the basement; they could hear the chirp of Firefighter McNamara's PASS device but could not reach him due to fire conditions. After the fire was controlled, a rescue team entered the structure and located the body of Firefighter McNamara.
The cause of death was listed as smoke and soot inhalation. Firefighter McNamara also suffered facial burns prior to his death. Three other firefighters were injured in the fire, including a deputy chief who suffered severe smoke inhalation during an attmept to rescue Firefighter McNamara.
The cause of the fire was identified as the overheating of a power strip and extension cord in the basement.
Martin McNamara left his pregnant wife and two small children at his home to die this horrible death. According to Claire McNamara's mother, who called in to Mistress Carrie while I was listening to the radio, he had already been out twice that night for what turned out to be false alarms.
"Then," she told Carrie, "He went out into that stinkin' cold night to fight a fire with his wife expecting him to come home, and with, I'm sure, he himself expecting to be home--never to return."
The baby Claire was carrying--a daughter--was born five days after McNamara's death. She was named Marty after her father.
According to Channel 5 in Boston,
Some in town were quick to point out the widow already received assistance from various sources in the area of $400,000 and her children will receive free tuition at any state college or university.