Watertown Firefighters Salute a Fallen Colleague, Lost 59 Years Ago

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Charlie Breitrose

Watertown Firefighters salute Charles Morrill, a member of the WFD who died fighting a fire 59 years ago at the then-East Junior High School.

Fifty-nine years ago, the Watertown Fire Department lost one of its own during an attic fire at the then-East Junior High School. On Friday afternoon, Watertown Firefighters paid tribute to Charles Morrill. 

More than a dozen members of the WFD lined up for a moment of silence on the field facing the former junior high on Mt. Auburn Street, which is now the Brigham House. They ended the brief ceremony by saluting their fallen colleague.

Provisional Fire Chief Bob Quinn said the Fire Department wanted to remember its members lost while serving the Town of Watertown.

“It’s important to remember him,” Quinn said. “Before last year, with Joe (Toscano)’s death, Charles Morrill was the previous line-of-duty death.”

Morrill died at age 39, and had been on the Fire Department for nearly 5 years. His son Charles was able to attend the event at the field in front of the Hosmer School. He was only 9 years old when his father died. His mother is 93, and is still around, but she couldn’t make it due to an injury.

Charles appreciated the observance for his father by the Fire Department.

“I think this is nice these guys remembering him for his service,” he said.

Charlie Breitrose

The Watertown Fire Department is remembers its fallen colleagues. Along with the ceremony for Charles Morrill on Friday, they plan to hold a Mass for Firefighters’ Memorial Sunday.

The Fire Department helped the Morrill family out after their father’s death, Charles said.

“It’s a great family,” Charles said. “I remember a firefighter coming to pick me up to take me to Boy Scouts.”

In all, the Fire Department has lost five members to line-of-duty deaths, Quinn said, with three in the 1930s along with Morrill and Toscano.

The ceremony will be just one way that the Fire Department remembers its fallen members. Last month, the Fire Department dedicated a memorial to Toscano on Merrifield Avenue. On June 10, the Fire Department will hold a noon Mass at St. Patrick’s Church for Firefighters’ Memorial Sunday.

“We invite the family members of fallen firefighters,” Quinn said. “We used to do it years ago but that got lost. We’re bringing it back.”

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