Editorial: Firefighters will need time to heal after tragic Warwick fire

  • Ashes are all that remain from a house where a mother and four children lost their lives in Warwick. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How awful to be a Warwick firefighter responding to a house fire that claimed the lives of four children and their mother March 4. Volunteer firefighters invest large amounts of their time in training and fighting fires because they are dedicated to helping their neighbors — but this time there was not a thing they could do.

The two-story house in the far northern reaches of the county was engulfed in flames when they arrived, with the roof collapsing and only two survivors of a family of seven to protect, comfort and console. People who usually stand ready to risk life and limb to rescue fellow residents were powerless to do what they desperately wanted to do. Instead, after extinguishing the flames, all they could do was help recover the victims. This has got to hurt, and hurt deeply, especially because the victims included children and because in a town of 800, the connections are deeper, and so, the pain sharper.

We extend our deepest condolences to the survivors of this tragedy — but also to Warwick’s dedicated first responders who did all they could that cold, dark morning. Because they are the kind of people who care so much for their fellow man, it will be some time before their hearts stop aching.

Big heart

Leyden Police Chief Daniel Galvis literally went out of his way to help a family cope with a medical problem recently.

Galvis, who as emergency management director delivers generators to Leyden residents in emergencies, found himself answering a call for a generator by the Princeton fire chief. That town about 90 minutes away needed a generator for a 15-year-old girl with a mechanical circulatory support device implanted in her heart — a life-sustaining device that runs on electricity.

Princeton is prone to long-term power outages, and had already lost power three times this winter, leading Princeton’s chief to be extremely concerned for the girl’s family.

“I’ve got access to probably about 13 different size generators … how could I say no?” Galvis told The Recorder, after he delivered a generator to the home and installed a transfer switch of his own when the generator’s didn’t work.

Learning about a different culture

Northfield Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders have been getting un petit taste of French culture with the help of eight Northfield Mount Hermon School students.

The preparatory school, which has long had an international flavor to its student body and good relations with its former host town, has been offering tutors to the public school students for about four years.

Currently, eight NMH students teach in pairs to four classes. The sessions are introductory, teaching children numbers, colors, adjectives and basic readings. The teaching is optional for the NMH French IV students. We hope the this helpful community outreach experience is as rewarding for them as it is for us to see.

All the help

Cownay Selectboard Chairman John P. O’Rourke has been appointed to the Massachusetts Municipal Association board of directors to advocate on behalf of 89 western Mass. towns before the Legislature.

In addition to advocating for towns, the association pursues policies that meet the needs of the state’s local communities and screens all new or changed regulations that affect communities.

The region he represents has a median population of 1,755 residents and so he will recommend, advocate for and write legislation that benefits these small municipalities. Many of Franklin County’s towns aren’t much larger than that or smaller, and can use all the help they can get navigating today’s tough economic and regulatory environment.