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WORCESTER — At the McKeon Street fire station, mourners left dozens of flower bouquets at the base of an American flag, flown at half-staff in tribute. A handwritten message read “Thank you for saving my cousin’s life.”

Across town at Livia’s Cafe, where Jason Menard and his wife Tina often had breakfast after dropping their three children off at school, a mimosa sat untouched on the counter, beside his photo atop an inscription of the Fireman’s Prayer.

“And if, according to my fate, I am to lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand my family, friends and wife,” the prayer concludes.

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The heartfelt tributes came a day after Worcester Fire Department Lieutenant Jason Menard, 39, was killed in a four-alarm house fire on Stockholm Street after helping two of his colleagues reach safety and searching desperately for anyone trapped inside.

“His heroic actions are proof of that dedication and his selfless commitment to not only his community but his fellow firefighters,” the city said Thursday in a statement.

One woman who lived in the three-family home was seriously injured, and one of the firefighters Menard rescued remains in the hospital, officials said.

As the conditions worsened, firefighter Chris Pace went out a third-story window, sustaining injuries to his ribs and lungs, said Michael Papagni, president of Local 1009, the union for city firefighters.

“He continues to recover in the hospital,” Papagni said. “He’s surrounded by family and friends, and he’s at the beginning of a long road to recovery.”

Fire officials credited Menard with saving Pace and another firefighter when they became trapped on the third floor of the burning building. Firefighters had received reports that two people, including a baby, were trapped on that floor.

Investigators were at the scene Thursday.
Investigators were at the scene Thursday. John Tlukacki/Globe staff/Globe Staff

The cause of the fire is under investigation. State investigators are assisting in the probe and providing drone technology, said Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office.

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A wake for Menard will be held Sunday. Calling hours will be held at Mercadante Funeral Home from 3 to 7 p.m., city officials said. Funeral services will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church on Temple Street. Menard will be laid to rest at St. John’s Cemetery on Cambridge Street.

Menard joined the Worcester Fire Department in 2010. Donations for his family are being accepted through the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts Foundation. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a charity based in New York City, is also raising money to pay off the mortgage on the Menard family’s home. The foundation was established in honor of Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who was killed while trying to save others during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Lieutenant Menard gave up his life to save the lives of his fellow firefighters, going back into the flames to make sure they got out safely,” Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, said in a news release. “Lieutenant Menard, like my brother Stephen, ran towards danger thinking only about the lives he could save, not what could happen to him.”

Words were written on f flowers left at a makeshift memorial in front of the flagpole at Ladder Five's firehouse.)
Words were written on f flowers left at a makeshift memorial in front of the flagpole at Ladder Five's firehouse.)John Tlumacki/Globe staff/Globe Staff

In a statement, Special Olympics Massachusetts said it “shares in the grief being felt across central Massachusetts” over Menard’s death.

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“Lieutenant Menard’s son was involved in the Special Olympics Unified sports program at Worcester Technical High School, competing in basketball and track and field,” it said. “Lieutenant Menard was an incredibly devoted supporter of his son and the team, often seen cheering from the stands.”

At Livia’s Cafe, a waitress who often waited on the Menards said the couple was “so clearly in love.” They kept to themselves, she said, savoring some quiet moments with each other.

“You could tell it was their rare time together,” she said.

Cindy Marie Cunningham, a family friend, called Jason and his wife, Tina, hard-working people who always put others before themselves. In a statement to the Globe, she called the couple “true soulmates” and best friends.

“He will be missed and mourned by everyone,” she said.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.