Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The Worcester Six

We came to be known
as the Worcester Six
but we were just firemen
the ones God had picked

We were called to respond
to a fire one night
when we arrived on the scene
there was no one in sight

A fire in a warehouse
the dispatcher said
we were told it was empty
we thought, victims, instead

A faint wisp of smoke
hung in the air
the fire lay waiting
deep inside, somewhere

A cold winter’s wind
cut through the cold
we assume someone’s inside
no matter what we’re told

Engine-men were stretching
their hose up the stairs
as Ladder-men gathered tools
getting prepared…

…for the task lying before us
to search and to vent
this is our responsibility
it’s why we’re sent

As we entered the building
looking up toward the sky
no windows were visible
we’d have to vent high

So we climbed up six flights
to access the roof
light smoke in the stairway
serving as proof

That a fire was present
not yet too intense
these measures we employ
are the proper defense

They allow us more time
For search, and for rescue
Before the fire gets rolling
Cutting off our escape route

After we vented the roof
We descended one floor
To begin searching for victims
Entering through a door

We’re in a windowless room
Our lights cut through the haze
From one room to another
Soon we’re lost in this maze

As we’re searching for victims
And for the exit
The fire suddenly intensifies
As oxygen reaches it

In what seems a blink of an eye
The smoke’s black and thick
We don our masks with urgency
We need to get out quick

Desperately, we look for the stairs
but can’t find our way out
fumble for our radios
“Mayday, Mayday”, we shout

Crawling through this labyrinth
from room to room
only twelve minutes of air
between us and our doom

We try to relay our location
to our brothers outside
in hopes that they’ll find us
before we have died

Enveloped in the darkness
time seemed to be frozen
suddenly aware of the risks
of this profession we’d chosen

It takes but a moment to realize
we may not survive
we’re now sharing our air
trying to stay alive

Meanwhile, desperation outside
as we lay dying
a rescue plan put together
two brothers are trying

Trying to reach us in time
and pull us to safety
but their effort’s in vain
it just wasn’t to be

They crawl through the darkness
and become lost, too
now the rescuers are victims
so they start another crew

No shortage of volunteers
outside the building
to risk his life for his brothers
every man is willing

The only thing that mattered now
was finding their brothers
for it’s their unwritten code
to depend on each other

As the third crew fell victim
to this hellish structure
whether more crews be sent in
was up for conjecture

It was then that the Chief did
what had to be done
he pulled everyone out of there
the building had won

It had swallowed our bravest
and was not giving them up
in a last act of bravery that night
the Chief said, “Enough!”

For more than two weeks following
as the world looked on
the city of Worcester, Massachusetts
recovered their brave sons

There were funerals and memorials
and a Presidential proclamation
the bravery and valor of these men
was beyond imagination

God keep you Paul, Tim, Tom, Jeremiah, Joe, & Jay

Copyright 2004 Tom Kenney

Carolina Tribute

God bless the giving souls
Of our nine Carolina brothers
They offered up their lives
In selfless service to others

When the bell tipped for them
On the night of 18 June
There was no way of knowing
Tragedy would strike so soon

Initial reports were people inside
This massive sofa showcase
With fire in the truss-roofed building
These firefighters were in a race

Collapse is an ever present threat
Of which firefighters are aware
But when lives are in the balance
It’s a threat that they must bare

They hurried in to search for victims
Before it was too late
Their job is to rescue civilians
From that horrible fate

Always knowing, but never dwelling
On the fact it could be them
Who have to pay the ultimate price
For heroically rushing in

These men all led honorable lives
Right down to their last breaths
In service to their fellow man
At the risk of their own deaths

So as they pass to their reward
Let’s take a moment to say
“Thank you guys for all you did,
And for your souls we pray”

Tom Kenney - 19June07

Not As They Seem

Things are not always as they seem…

This Monday past
Firefighters arrived at the scene
To a fire in a showroom
That seemed pretty routine
…it was not

Firefighters rushed in
To where victims might hide
For reports from civilians
Stated two employees inside
…there were not

As the Chief took control
His men began the attack
He watched them move in
And assumed they’d be back
…some were not

As the companies advanced
They put water on the fire
Betting they could knock it down
Before the flames took off higher
…they could not

No one on the scene
Expected such a disaster
All that was at stake, they thought
Was steel, wood and plaster
…they were wrong

These Firefighters go to work each day
Believing they’ll return
It’s been that way forever
No need for concern
…but there is

Ask them to stop risking their lives
For perfect strangers
…..they would not

Tom Kenney - 2007

Heartbreak’s Everlasting

There are men who put others first
Help their neighbors through their worst
Without ever thinking twice
They risk their very lives each day
To keep us all from harm’s way
Whatever be the price

To understand what they’re about
When the rest of us are rushing out
They are running in
For no matter what may await inside
Their will to fight won’t be denied
Until it’s safe within

Nine of the bravest from Charleston
Were no match that day
For the awesome power of the firestorm
That took them all away
And though we celebrate their bravery
As we also mourn their passing
We know we’ll never fully recover
For our heartbreak’s everlasting

So as the flames and smoke arose
They quickly advanced their hose
Into the Sofa Store
For a man was reported trapped inside
And running out of places to hide
As they crawled along the floor

They fought their way into the fire
But then the flames erupted higher
Cutting off their escape
It was then that our heroes were lost
Nine brave men, what a terrible cost
Our world forever reshaped

Nine of the bravest from Charleston
Were no match that day
For the awesome power of the firestorm
That took them all away
And though we celebrate their bravery
As we also mourn their passing
We know we’ll never fully recover
For our heartbreak’s everlasting

Tom Kenney - 11/7/2007

Fallen Jakes

Numerous messages to God since Wednesday…
Bless our brothers, the fallen Jakes
It seems there’s never rhyme nor reason
For whom He decides to take

Again we’re forced to struggle with the fact
That He’s taken two of our bravest
If we could, we brothers, march to heaven
From Him their souls we’d outwrest

But such is the fate of the dedicated Jake
Much, much too often
Though they died doing the job they loved
This blow cannot be softened

It crushes their families, kills their dreams
Of happy times together
They must go on, remembering their souls
Will live with them forever

We fellow firefighters in the “brotherhood”
Have lost two of our own
Like countless of our brothers before them
It still cuts to the bone

And lest we forget their brothers in arms
Who fought by their side
Some of whom still lay in hospital beds
Lucky to have not died

Our hearts may go out to all of the above
For they all suffer today
They’ll pick up the pieces the best they can
Each in their own way

But our prayers are for the eternal souls
Of two true Boston heroes
Who did their jobs until the very end
Earning them their haloes

Lt. Tom Kenney - Providence Fire Department

Too Many Funerals

Again I travel to a “Line-Of-Duty-Death” funeral
This time, not too far away
My latest “brothers” to fall victim to our vocation
Were laid to rest today

Boston firefighters from Engine 30 and Ladder 25
Paul Cahill and Warren Payne
Were toasted today at many Boston watering holes
By brothers drowning their pain

Over ten-thousand firefighters from all over the US
Have gathered to pay their respects
To our brave “brothers in arms” who paid the price
No “employer” could expect

But our “employers”, you see, are our fellow neighbors
Who desperately depend on us
To keep them safe from a growing myriad of harms
On our dedication they may trust

As such, we’ll never back down from our duties
No matter what the cost
We “put on the line” whatever we may need to risk
To keep a life from being lost

I’ve marched in the two largest gatherings, so far
Of firefighters in our history
What drives us to make these treks time after time
Is certainly not a mystery

These men we’ve gathered to honor on this day
Have gathered for others before
This presumption, I can state with confidence
It’s simply our “esprit de corps”

Worcester, Charleston, and New York City
To name just a few
The destinations may always be different
As we gather to bid adieu

Though it hurts like hell to watch the processions
With all the pipes and drums
It leaves an even bigger hole in your heart
If you’re absent when the time comes

Being there for others when they need us
Is what we’re all about
How can we not make the effort for a brother
If we’re able, there’s no doubt

It’s not about spectacle, it’s not about glory
Never has been nor will be
It’s all about love and honor and respect
Put on display for all to see

We do it to show the whole wide world
What this man meant to us
We do it to show a single little boy
His dad is worth the fuss

But most of all we do it for ourselves, I guess
To honor this profession we love
For being a firefighter is the greatest job on earth
The best any of us could conceive of

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

Yesterday’s Heroes

Yesterday’s heroes are fragile old men
Too weak to fend for themselves
Silently sitting and staring at the medals
And old photos on the shelves

These old mementos gathering dust
Harken back to earlier years
When these men were young and eager
To face their own worst fears

Some were soldiers, others firemen
Cops and others, too
Most were simply men of honor
Who knew what they must do

Heroes are not men without fear
But rather ones that know
That all men have a fear of something
Whether or not it shows

A hero learns to tame his trepidation
And go on just the same
For only by his facing these demons
Can a man live up to his name

So think not that these old men
Lay in fear of death
They’ve faced that opponent many times
Down to their last breath

For death will come to all one day
And when we meet our fate
If we’ve not lived our lives to the fullest
By then it’s much too late

These men dread one thing about death
And that’s to die all alone
Other than that, it’s a peaceful transition
As they pass to their new home

2007 - Tom Kenney


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