Letter to the Editor 11-9-2023

Successful 50th Anniversary Remembrance

To the Editor,

A big thank you to: Emergency Management Director Steve Staffier, 911 Assistant Director Dan Johnson, Assistant Superintendent of Chelsea Fire Alarm Paul Koolloian, Emergency Management Supervisor Josiah Hill, Chelsea Deputy Fire Chief John Quatieri (Chief of Operations), Chelsea Fire Captain Joe Conlon, Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Hassell, City of Cambridge Radio Systems Administrator Michael Mahoney, and City Councilor Leo Robison. They are the committee members who put together the 50th Anniversary Remembrance of the Chelsea October 14, 1973, Conflagration, which was celebrated October 14, 2023, at the Chelsea Station Restaurant (which was the old Engine 5 Fire Station at the time of the conflagration). Although I was not able to attend the remembrance, I understand it was a great event and enjoyed by those who were present. 

I remember the fire very well and I was only a firefighter for six-months when I received a phone call, at about 3:40 P.M., from the late Fire Prevention Officer Fire Lieutenant Neil Wilson telling me to report to Fire Box 215. Being a relatively new firefighter, I ask him “where is Fire Box 215?”. He replied, “just follow the smoke”. 

Of the approximately 118 firefighters, who were on the Chelsea Fire Department, at the time of the conflagration, at least twenty-one are still living. The following are the names of such firefighters (but in no particular order): Robert Perry, Joseph Capistran, Joseph Delaney, John Wall, Joseph MacDonald, Robert Norton, Richard Russo, John Dod, Edward Conley, William Abramofsky, Richard Spinelli, Paul Sweeney, William Sullivan, William Cross, William White, William Dudley, Richard Mongiello, Peter Morrine, Louis Addonizio, Raymond Johnson, and Frederick Buckley. 

The last Chelsea Firefighter to retire, who fought the October 14, 1973, Conflagration, was William White. Firefighter White retired February 1, 2009. 

For a small city, Chelsea experienced three conflagrations. They were the Palm Sunday 1908 Fire, the October 14, 1973, Fire, and the American Barrel Fire of May 22, 1974. 

Respectively yours,

Fire Chief 

Louis T. Addonizio, Retired

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