Boston considers permit changes following LODDs

Fire officials said the blaze was accidentally sparked by welders who failed to get a permit for work on a neighboring building

Boston Herald

BOSTON — Officials are calling for tougher laws after two Boston firefighters died in a Back Bay blaze that authorities say was accidently sparked by welders who failed to get a permit for work on a neighboring building.

“Maybe if there was a stiffer law these two guys would be alive,” said Rich Paris, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718. “They should be held accountable.”

Fire officials said that there was no record of anyone requesting a permit to do welding on railings at 296 Beacon St., and that a permit was required for the job. There was also no fire detail at the welding site, which is sometimes required for such work. Sparks from the job ignited a wooden structure behind 298 Beacon St. that was whipped into an inferno by strong winds. Lt. Edward J. Walsh Jr. and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy died battling the nine-alarm blaze after they were trapped in the basement.

The state has no criminal negligence statue that could apply to a fatal fire caused by human error, officials have said. But Paris said stronger penalties for working without a permit would prevent contractors from cutting corners.

“It will keep people accountable, they cannot send out sloppy workers in the morning,” Paris said. “They have it run professionally if they know they will be held accountable.”

State Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), whose district includes Boston, said he is not sure what changes to state law will be most effective.

“There’s a bunch of questions that need to be asked there,” he said. “I will certainly be giving this attention and exploring what some of the options are.”

Fire and police officials yesterday said the investigation into the fire is ongoing.

“There’s still some things to investigate,” said Boston fire spokesman Steve MacDonald.

Paris said the fund set up for the families of Kennedy and Walsh has been successful so far, but he did not know the total donated.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said.

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