BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Two firefighters who died battling a 9-alarm blaze in Boston's Back Bay Wednesday afternoon are being remembered by those who knew them and by those who were grateful for their service and sacrifice.
The American flag flew at half staff outside Engine 33/Ladder 15 on Boylston Street Thursday. A memorial of flowers also grew outside the firehouse where Lt. Edward J. Walsh and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy worked.
Walsh was a 43-year-old father of three who had almost a decade of experience. Kennedy was a 33-year-old Marine Corps combat veteran who had been a firefighter for more than six years. The men were battling fire inside the basement of a brownstone on Beacon Street when a mayday call went out.
The President of the Professional Fire Fighters Association of Massachusetts visited FOX 25 Wednesday night to remember Walsh and Kennedy shortly after speaking with their families.
"It's a devastating loss," said Ed Kelly. "I worked with both Michael and Eddie, they're two of the best firefighters we had in the city of Boston."
Kelly said their families are being very strong. He said he met with Walsh's wife and 8-year-old son and that his son was very brave.
"Eddie was like the strong silent type, he led by example," said Kelly. "He was an up and coming leader in our department, I really thought he had the potential to be one of the big chiefs in our job down the road. And Michael was like the life of the party. He was a great kid and he squeezed every bit of life out of 33 years."
Fellow firefighters also mourned the loss of their brothers. Some described Kennedy as a man who "lived his life to better others."
Boston fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said Kennedy was very into physical fitness and Crossfit. He was involved in a foundation dedicated to helping burn victims and served on a hospitality committee for a national conference held in Boston the night prior to the fire. Friends told FOX 25 Kennedy was training to run the 2014 Boston Marathon.
State and city officials also expressed their grief over the loss.
"This terrible tragedy reinforces how we must be grateful every single day for the brave men and women who put themselves in danger day in and day out to keep us safe," said Gov. Deval Patrick.
Speaking outside the Boylston Street firehouse Thursday, Patrick called their deaths "an unspeakably sad loss." He said their colleagues are commiserating together and telling funny stories about their fallen friends as any family would do.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement, saying in-part, "Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that these brave men gave their lives to protect the safety of our city and its people."
Tributes to the fallen firefighters poured in from across the country via social media.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who lives in the Back Bay, said he extends "deepest sympathies and condolences" to the fire department and families "of our brave and selfless firefighters who gave their lives for our protection and safety today."
Brady's teammate, Vince Wilfork, also posted a message on Twitter extending his deepest condolences to the Walsh and Kennedy families.
Walsh and Kennedy are the first Boston firefighters to die on duty since 2009, when a firefighter was killed after the brakes failed in the truck he was in and it struck a building. Two firefighters died in 2007 while battling a restaurant fire in West Roxbury.
The Lieutenant Walsh - Firefighter Kennedy Memorial Fund has been established and 100 percent of the money raised goes to the families of the two fire fighters. Donations can be sent to: Boston Firefighters Credit Union, 60 Hallet St., Dorchester, MA 02124. To learn more, visit: https://www.bosfirecu.com/
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