Everett Firefighter Thaddeus ‘Tad’ Baxter passed away suddenly late last week, leaving yet another sad situation at the Everett Fire Department.
For the Department, it comes after they lost one firefighter to occupational cancer this summer, and saw two firefighters injured – one severely – during a major fire last summer as well.
Baxter, 43, leaves his wife, Nicole, who was very active with the Fire Department wives group, and two daughters, Casey, 19, of Merrimack College, and Madison, 17, of Woburn High School.
Baxter had been on the job for 13 years, having taken a stint in the middle to become a police officer for a while, returning shortly afterward though. He worked on Engine 2 and Group 4, but truly distinguished himself as the commander of the EFD’s vaunted Honor Guard.
“His girls were his world,” said Craig Hardy, president of Firefighters Local 143. “This is a tough one. He was only 43…We’ve had a really tough year to say the least. This one really ripped our hearts open wide. Tad did so many things for friends, family and members that no one knew about. He did Local 143 proud with the Honor Guard and made it so important throughout the state because of his presence and how he served us. He’s known for that throughout the state for sure.”
Fire Chief Tony Carli said Baxter was always there to be counted upon and his loss has weighed heavy on the Department.
“He was one of the guys always around the Fire House whether on duty or off-duty, he would always stop in,” he said. “It’s been very tough. We’ve been talking with all of the firefighters and making sure everyone’s okay. I’m not going to lie, though, it’s been a tough year with losing one firefighter to cancer and having two others injured. For a department of 100, that’s a lot and we’re dealing with some serious things. However, there is a lot of truth to the fact that the fire service is a big family, not only the members, but also for Tad’s family.”
Carli said he was best known for his work on the Honor Guard.
“He’s well regarded statewide for that,” he said. “We’ve been recognized as one of the top Honor Guards around. He organized it and helped people to take it seriously.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria held a moment of silence for Baxter on Monday before the Veterans Day ceremony, as Baxter had been an Army veteran too.
“I’m heartbroken to hear about the passing of Everett firefighter, Thaddeus Baxter,” said the mayor. “Thaddeus was not only a firefighter, but also a husband, father, and a great friend to all of us. His family and fellow firefighters are in my thoughts and prayers. This loss leaves a great void in our city and he will be greatly missed.”
Hardy said Baxter did suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it weighed heavily on him and his career.
That, Hardy said, was a lesson for all firefighters and veterans to seek help as Baxter did.
“That weighed in on him heavily,” he said. “We should all be making sure those around us in the fire service are okay, and reaching out when we can.”
Said Carli, “We’re very conscious of the mental stress this job brings to our members. We work hard to provide them with the tools to get the job done and to take care of themselves as well.”
The wake for Firefighter Baxter will take place today, Nov. 14, from 4-8 p.m. at Cafasso and Sons Funeral Home, 65 Clark St., Everett.
Firefighter Thaddeus ‘Tad’ Baxter died suddenly late last week, yet another loss for the Everett Fire Department this year. He is remembered as being the commander of the well-known EFD Honor Guard.