Two days ago, Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, the two Boston firefighters who died battling a nine-alarm fire on Beacon Street last March, were posthumously awarded the state’s highest firefighting honor.
The ceremony was attended by the late firefighters' families and comrades, as well as an array of dignitaries and both received Medals of Honor during the 25th annual Firefighter of the Year heroism awards ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester.
“Within minutes of responding to the Beacon Street fire, we lost two great firefighters,” said Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn. “Their devotion to duty compelled them to rush into what would become a perilous situation.”
Walsh’s wife and two of his children, along with Kennedy’s mother and father, accepted the awards on behalf of the men. The Boston Fire Department received a group award for their attempts to rescue the pair, who became trapped in the basement.
Firefighters from 10 communities were also honored during the ceremony. Governor Deval Patrick and other state and fire officials presented a total of 22 awards for acts of heroism. Several awards went to off-duty firefighters who charged into burning buildings without safety gear to search for people trapped inside.