A scary situation for firefighters in Leominster when they became trapped in a building, but they credit training they’d received just hours earlier for getting them out alive.
The fire started around 2 a.m. Sunday on Mechanic Street in Leominster, but the problems for firefighters didn’t come until they thought they had the flames under control.
“It just took a turn, it got really hot really fast,” firefighter Jonathan Williams said.
Williams and Lt. Marcel Cormier were inside checking for hot spots when the fire suddenly flashed back.
“When everything turned red it felt like a hundred bees stinging your neck,” Cormier said.
Even through all of his gear, the heat was too much for him.
“It got to the point where I recognized things were starting to deteriorate significantly fast and bad,” he said.
The firefighters were ordered out of the building, but as he was leaving Cormier couldn’t find Williams. Thankfully, they had gone through mayday training earlier in the night.
“I got wedged in the door, debris fell behind the back and pinched me right in there,” Williams said.
Williams couldn’t reach is radio to call for help, but Cormier was already making the mayday call that firefighters dread.
“I can’t explain the pit in my stomach, the realization that I had just lost a member of my crew,” Cormier said.
Williams’ wife was listening to the scanners and heard the call, she rushed to the scene and found her husband had been able to fight his way free from the debris.
“You get that blast of adrenaline and you get yourself out of that situation in any way possible,” Williams said.
His helmet is burnt and cracked but he was unhurt and Williams said he’s grateful his lieutenant made that call.
“No matter how much you train, and we train a lot, when you’re in the real deal situation it still kind of sends a chill down your spine,” Williams said.
Cormier said many firefighters don’t like to make a mayday call because they don’t like to admit they may be in trouble, but he hopes that by sharing this story more will do so and more will come home to their loved ones at the end of their shift.