The two reports, one federal, the other produced by the Boston Fire Department, about the 2014 Beacon Street fire that killed Boston Fire Lieutenant Ed Walsh and firefighter Mike Kennedy make for tough reading. The communications timeline, with Walsh repeatedly calling for water that didn’t come because their hose had been burned through, is especially hard to read. What is not said explicitly in the reports, but which is clearly evident from reading them is this: Ed Walsh and Mike Kennedy did nothing wrong. In fact, they did exactly what they were supposed to. And if they responded to the same alarm today, under the same conditions, they would have done the same thing. A combination of unforeseen and unseeable human interactions and nature’s fury conspired to kill them. Engine 33 was the first firetruck to arrive. Walsh, the commanding officer on the engine, reported smoke showing from the first floor of the four-story brownstone.
From the BFD’s 218-page Board of Inquiry report: “Two civilians exiting the fire building reported that the fire was in the basement and that there might be someone in the basement apartment.”