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City Council Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of Hotel Vendome Fire

This tragedy was the largest Line of Duty Death in the history of the Boston Fire Department.

On June 17, 1972, after nearly three hours of fighting a massive blaze at the Hotel Vendome at 160 Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay, part of the building collapsed, trapping 25 Boston firefighters and claiming the lives of nine members, leaving eight women widowed and 23 children fatherless that Father’s Day morning.

This tragedy was the largest Line of Duty Death in the history of the Boston Fire Department.

The nine members of the Boston Fire Department whose lives were lost were Fire Lieutenant Thomas J. Carroll of Engine 32; Fire Lieutenant John E. Hanbury of Ladder 13; Firefighter Charles E. Dolan of Ladder 13; Firefighter Joseph P. Saniuk of Ladder 13; Firefighter John E. Jameson of Engine 22; Firefighter Thomas W. Beckwith of Engine 32; Firefighter Paul J. Murphy of Engine 32; Firefighter Richard B. Magee of Engine 33; and Firefighter Joseph E. Boucher, Jr. of Engine 22.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the funeral Mass held at Cathedral of the Holy Cross to pay their last respects to the nine firefighters. A citywide day of mourning was declared.

On the 25th anniversary of the fire in 1997, a memorial was dedicated on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall across from the site of the fire, consisting of a curved granite base with a bronze sculpture of a firefighter’s helmet and jacket with inscriptions of the names of the firefighters lost.

On Wednesday, the Council adopted a resolution commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Hotel Vendome fire with grateful appreciation and heartfelt regret in recognition and memory of the lives of the nine firefighters lost in the line of duty. The Council expresses its deepest condolences to the families of those whose loved ones were lost in service to the City of Boston.

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