Many people seem to have the false impression that a firefighter’s family is set for life on a pension if he or she dies, says Fire Chief Steven Pasdon, and that’s not the case at all.
Pasdon gratefully accepted a $5,000 check Tuesday from up at the to go toward the James Rice Memorial Fund, which benefits Rice’s widow Amy and three children: Alyssa (12), Katelyn (9) and Ryan (7).
Rice, 42, on Hancock Street just two days before Christmas.
In the days since then, numerous donations have poured in from all areas of the community for a number of relief funds, including the one for his family, which was set up at .
The donation from Macy’s was simply a way of giving back to the community and particularly the Fire Department out of respect for their loss.
“We’re part of this community; we’re in here together,” Anthony Paratore, Macy’s vice president of operations, told Pasdon Tuesday. He added that after learning of Rice’s death, he and other regional corporate officers wanted to do something that would benefit both the community and the Fire Department.
Those were sentiments shared by a handful of other Macy’s representatives Tuesday, who all said the local store has been “plugged into the community for many years,” so much so that they feel like part of a larger family.
Paratore actually spoke with Barbara DeBruyckere, Pasdon’s secretary, the day after the tragic events and was struck by both the closeness and shared pain evident throughout the department.
Pasdon, expressing his thanks on behalf of the department and the Rice family – he said Amy was at home with bronchitis and unable to be there, noted the donation and many others like it have all been unsolicited. He said the current balance on the relief fund is $60,082 plus the $5,000.
“People get the false impression that when something like his happens, the family is set for life…not at all,” Pasdon said. He added that eventually they do get the pension, but that’s it. The only other aid comes through acts of charity.
As for the Rice family, Pasdon says he “admires” Amy Rice for the great strength she’s shown over the past two months, especially as she forges ahead now a single parent of three young children. “Not a day goes by [that] I don’t think about it.”
“She makes what I have to do easier,” Pasdon said, referring to the emotional and procedural effort of moving the department forward after experiencing such a great loss.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s chief of staff Chris Ryder stepped over to Tuesday morning on behalf of Bettencourt who was unable to be there. Ryder said the mayor is “proud” of the continued outpouring of financial support from the community in the face of the tragedy.