One Fire This Retiring Grafton Firefighter Can't Put Out

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The Davison family at A.C.'s retirement party. From left, Jackie, Hilda Munoz, Andrew, A.C., Sarah, and Mark Fusaro.
The Davison family at A.C.'s retirement party. From left, Jackie, Hilda Munoz, Andrew, A.C., Sarah, and Mark Fusaro. Photo Credit: Richard Price
A quilt of A.C.'s fireman t-shirts made by his daughter, Sarah.
A quilt of A.C.'s fireman t-shirts made by his daughter, Sarah. Photo Credit: Richard Price

GRAFTON, Mass. —Firefighters have larger families than the rest of us.  They have a spouse, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on. 

But they have a super extended family that lives in the firehouse. They train together, tell jokes, share personal stories, and argue. They eat turkey on Thanksgiving and ham on Easter in the station dining room with all their spouses and children.

It’s what families do.

Arthur “A.C.” Davison, 66, has one of those families. He is retiring from the Grafton Fire Department after 23 years, plus another 30 on a hook and ladder with the Worcester Fire Department.

There were so many calls over the decades he lost count.  But he remembers  the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire.  He was in the station when the bell rang on Dec. 3, 1999. When Ladder One pulled up, Davison saw the hell flames running up six floors. “We knew we were in trouble,” he said.

He was the first to arrive.

Six firefighters died that night: Paul Brotherton, Jeremiah Lucey, James Lyons, Joseph McGuirk, and two members of Davison’s “family”, Timothy Jackson, who was 51, and Thomas Spencer, who was 42.

He calls them Timmy and Tommy.

Davison thinks about that fire every day, the eternal flames this seasoned firefighter can’t put out.

“You go to work one day, you go the next, and six are missing.” he said. 

He and Timmy were ladder partners for several years. Later, he and Tommy had sons born one hour apart. Tommy greeted Patrick into the world while Davison said hello to his new son, Andrew. 

They were practically twins, but in a firefighter family, is this unusual?

“Tommy had six boys,” Davison said. “They would come over to the station all the time to see his dad.” They were an army of boys filling the station with laughter, fighting, and horsing around.

And there would be firehouse feasts.  Davison was the station chef. If everyone was working on Mother’s Day, the entire “family” would show up to Davison’s buffet brunch.

It’s what families do.

Davison knew the Cold Storage Warehouse before it became famous. He held a second job as an elevator mechanic and worked in the building during an upgrade. He remembers the labyrinth of lefts and rights and the many, many small rooms.  It was a big,  complicated building.

“And no windows above the first floor,” he said.

On Saturday night, Davison was honored for his many years as a fireman for the Town of Grafton.  The Polish National Home was packed with friends, well-wishers, and lots of “family.”

The party started late; there was a fire in the north side of town.

Davison won’t be climbing a ladder again but he still works as an elevator mechanic.  He likes to stay busy.

Last month, he was in Hopedale working on a job.  Nearby is a cemetery where Timmy rests. Davison stopped by in his truck and said “Hi” to a member of his family.  He said whenever he is nearby, he stops to visit.

At the edge of the cemetery is a house where Timmy’s widow still lives.  Davison said she looks out the back window every day and keeps an eye on Timmy. 

It’s what families do.

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Along with Sean Graves I had the great pleasure in coaching Andrew in Little League. His folkes were ALWAYS there. Andrew's effort was ALWAYS on high. You see, this family knew one speed - "all out". Be it baseball or community service the kids learned well from their parents - it's all about service. Thank you so much for your service A.C. - you are an inspiration to us all.

A.C thanks for your service!