Thousands of firefighters are expected to pour into Watertown Wednesday to bid farewell Firefighter Joseph Toscano, who died in the line of duty and whose funeral will be held Wednesday. But a couple knew the fallen hero better than anyone.
When Watertown Deputy Fire Chief Bob Quinn needed to appoint an aide 12 and a half years ago an he knew the Toscano was the perfect man for the job.
“He was my first choice,” Quinn said. “I need someone that I could rely on, someone that I could trust, someone who could make decisions to help me make good decisions.”
Quinn said Toscano’s death is a “devastating” blow for the department.
“He was a fantastic person,” Quinn said. “He was a great guy, always had a smile on his face. He was just an all-around super guy.”
Quinn said he remembers when he hired Toscano 20-years ago. He stood out from the moment he met him.
“He lost both his parents at a young age and he had to move in with another family,” Quinn said. “A lot of times people get into those situations and they have issues later on, but Joe went on, graduated high school, graduated college and became a very accomplished human being.”
In addition to his work with the Fire Department, Toscano was married to his wife Maureen for 25-years, and was a father a five children – Alyssa, Patrick, Mary Cate, William and Michael – according to a statement released by the Toscano family.
Toscano was “master craftsman” who built a home for his wife and kids in Randolph, the Toscano family said.
He was a support of the Incarnation Camp in Connecticut, which he attended as a kid and spent nearly four decades as a volunteer, the Toscano family said.
“Joe was kind and generous to all who knew him,” the Toscano family said in a statement.
Former Watertown Fire Chief Paul F. McCaffrey worked with Toscano from 1996 until he retired in 2003.
“He was a gentleman,” McCaffrey said. “He was a pleasure to be around, he was someone that, if you were a firefighter, you’d like to have him in your firehouse and on your shift.”
He was very cordial, very easy to work with,” McCaffrey said. “And those were his characteristics in the firehouse.”
As a firefighter, McCaffrey said he found Toscano to be “hard working, and very effective.”
“[He] did his job, whatever the job happened to be, whatever he was asked he would carry it out to the best of his ability,” McCaffrey said.
One of the tasks Toscano took on was becoming the department’s un-official chef, Quinn said.
“Every shift he tried to make sure that we had a nice meal for dinner,” Quinn said. “He was very talented.”
Toscano was able prepare a meal for eight people on a budget of five dollars a person, Quinn said. And there was almost always second helpings.
“He liked the challenge,” Quinn said.
He was planning on making shrimp and chorizo for dinner the day he died, Quinn said.
The two responded to dozens of fires over the years, Quinn said. Toscano was relied on to provide information from the inside, and he always delivered.
“We had multiple house fire together,” Quinn said. “He was just an outstanding resource on any call I went on.”
On Friday, the two responded to a fire at 29 Merrifield Ave. It would their last fire together, Toscano, 54, collapsed after suffering a “medial emergency” while inside battling the two-alarm blaze. He was rushed to Mt. Auburn Hospital, but was pronounced dead a short time later.
Toscano’s funeral will take place at St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The streets of Watertown Square will be closed much of the day. See details here.
A fund has been created to benefit Toscano’s family, find out how to help here.
The Watertown Boys & Girls Club will be open for firefighters and police officers to get warm and rest, or to watch the funeral on TV on Wednesday. It is located at 25 Whites Ave., (across Main St. and down the block from St. Patrick’s Church).