"THE SUPREME SACRIFICE"

By Hank Przybylowicz

December 22


On this date in history, the following members of the fire service made "The Supreme Sacrifice:"


1846 - BUFFALO, NY
Vol. F/F Henry B. Bishop - Engine 2
He was caught in a fire as he slept in his father's store. Being unable to escape, he burned to death.

1892 - INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Capt. William R. McGinnis - Age 40 - Hose 8 - 14-year veteran
He was the 13th and last firefighter to die as a result of injuries sustained in the building collapse at the bookstore fire of March 17th, 1890. He never fully recovered from his injuries.

1910 - CHICAGO, IL
Fire Chief James Horan - Age 51 - 19-year veteran
2nd Asst. Chief William Burroughs - Age 47 - 15-year veteran
Capt. Dennis Doyle - Age 46 - Engine 39 - 14-year veteran
Capt. Alexander Lannon - Age 40 - Engine 50 - 17-year veteran
Capt. Patrick Collins - Age 47 - Engine 59 - 17-year veteran
Lt. James Fitzgerald - Age 33 - Engine 23 - 5-year veteran
Lt. Edward Danis - Age 46 - Engine 61 - 15-year veteran
Lt. William Sturm - Age 46 - Engine 64 - 13-year veteran
Lt. Herman Brandenberg - Age 41 - Truck 11 - 18-year veteran
F/F George Enthof - Age 31 - Engine 23 - 4-year veteran
F/F Thomas Costello - Age 34 - Engine 29 - 5-year veteran
F/F George Murawski - Age 37 - Engine 49
F/F Frank Walters - Age 46 - Engine 59 - 17-year veteran
F/F William Weber - Age 34 - Engine 59 - 5-year veteran
F/F Albert J. Moriarty - Age 34 - Truck 11 - 8-year veteran
F/F Peter Powers - Age 34 - Truck 11 - 8-year veteran
F/F Michael McInerney - Age 32 - Truck 11 - 6-year veteran
F/F Nicholas Doyle - Age 25 - Truck 11 - 3-year veteran
F/F Edward Schonsett - Age 27 - Truck 11 - 3-year veteran
F/F Nicholas Crane - Age 34 - Truck 18 - 11-year veteran
F/F Charles Moore - Age 29 - Truck 18 - 6-year veteran
They were killed when they were caught in a major wall collapse, while operating at a five-alarm fire in a six-story brick meatpacking warehouse in the stockyards. Five additional special alarms were struck to aid in the rescue effort. As the first bodies were found the hopes of finding survivors quickly faded. Throughout the day and into the next night, the bodies of the fallen firefighters were found and removed to waiting ambulances. The fire chief's body was found 14-1/2 hours after the collapse. The last body recovered was that of Captain Doyle, of Engine 39. His son, Firefighter Nicholas Doyle, of Truck 11, was also killed in the collapse. The entire company of Truck 11 was killed in the collapse. The First Assistant Chief went on to become the fire chief and was the fire commissioner when the 1934 conflagration destroyed a good part of the sprawling stockyards. So that he could be home with his family on Christmas Day, Lieutenant Brandenberg, of Truck 11, traded his days off with another man. Lieutenant Fitzgerald, of Engine 23, was to be married Christmas Eve. Firefighter Schonsett, of Truck 11, died on his birthday and his third wedding anniversary was on Christmas Eve. Firefighter Weber, of Engine 59, had just moved his family into their new home a few days earlier. The chief of Battalion 11, who was the first chief at the scene of this fire, was killed in a collision on November 8, 1916, as he responded to another fire in the stockyards. A total of 21 men, including the Fire Chief, made the Supreme Sacrifice that morning. Not only was this fire the most tragic in the history of the Chicago FD, it was the most firefighters ever lost at one time in the history of the paid fire service.

1910 - PHILADELPHIA, PA
Capt. Gustave Wittig - Engine 15
Lt. Thomas Entwistle - Engine 21
Lt. John Kalberer - Engine 23
F/F Robert Stewart - Engine 2
F/F Charles Edelman - Engine 6
F/F William McConnell - Engine 23
F/F Samuel W. Park - Ladder A
F/F John F. Carroll - Ladder G
F/F William Bihlmire - Ladder I
F/F John Collins - Ladder 4
F/F George Matchinsky - Ladder 7
F/F Hary Bartolet - Chemical 2
F/F Thomas M. Pass - Chemical 2
On arrival, firefighters found heavy fire on the first floor of a five-story leather factory. A second alarm was struck and firefighters began to make an aggressive interior attack on the fire in an effort to stop its spread to upper floors of the factory. Their efforts proved futile, however, and the fire spread vertically throughout the building via numerous vertical openings. Close to three hours later, as firefighters continued their attack with interior lines and from ladders, a collapse occurred, trapping several men under tons of rubble. Immediate rescue efforts were launched to remove the fallen men. Two hours into the rescue operation, a secondary collapse occurred, trapping even more men than in the first collapse. A total of 13 firefighters and one police officer were killed, and 51 other firefighters were injured in the collapses.

1912 - BOSTON, MA
Batt. Chief Robert A. Ritchie - Age 57 - Battalion 13
He died in the performance of his duties.

1917 - ATLANTA, GA
F/F Charles C. Winter - Age 39 - Engine 4 - 4-year veteran
He died as a result of complications that arose from injuries sustained February 19th, when he struck his head at a multiple-alarm hay and grain warehouse fire.

1925 - BALTIMORE, MD
Capt. Harry Jones - Age 51 - Water Tower 2 - 16-year veteran
On arrival, firefighters found the tall silo of a grain elevator well involved in fire. The silo was filled to the top with oats and corn and was burning fiercely. The four-alarm fire was surrounded with hand lines and was knocked down. Afterwards, several members entered the silo to complete the extinguishment, when the top wall gave way and showered the men with debris. Four men, including Jones, were caught under the collapsing concrete. Jones had been serving as the chief engineer's aide. The other three men were dug out and eventually recovered.

1952 - CHICAGO, IL
F/F Patrick Rochford - Engine 82
He suffered a fatal heart attack in quarters while on duty.

1959 - REVERE BEACH, MA
F/F Melvin Caissie - Engine 1
He died while operating at a spectacular general-alarm fire that destroyed a sprawling 3-1/2-story frame ballroom.

1960 - CHICAGO, IL
Batt. Chief Michael Lynch - Battalion 10
He was killed when he fell down a pole hole in quarters while responding to an alarm.

1963 - BROOKLYN, NY
F/F James J. Johnston II - Engine 310 - 4-year veteran
He died of smoke inhalation while operating at a single-alarm fire.

1980 - RACINE, WI
F/F Clyde P. Carre - Engine 1
F/F Jon G. Hogle - Engine 1
Shortly after arrival at an arson fire in a restaurant, they were making an interior attack on the blaze when a portion of the roof of the two-story structure suddenly collapsed on top of them, killing them. It is the worst tragedy in the department's history.

1989 - CHICAGO, IL
F/F Kelvin Anderson - Age 27 - Engine 107 - 1-year veteran
He was killed while searching for possible trapped occupants during a three-alarm church fire. He apparently became disoriented and got lost during the search. When firefighters discovered he was missing, search teams entered the church several times to find him, only to be pushed back each time by heavy fire and smoke conditions. The building became fully involved and the roof eventually collapsed. It took firefighters over 16 hours to recover his body.

Lay me down beside cool waters,
And lay to rest my body sore.
Send the word out to my brothers,
The fire is down, let it burn no more.
- Charlie Ball -
"Fireman's Prayer"


Let us not forget these brave souls who unselfishly gave their lives in the performance of their duties. Let us all take a moment out of our busy day to say a prayer for these fallen soldiers of the Lord, and ask that He grant them eternal rest and peace in His Kingdom. Also ask that He watch over and protect the member's loved ones who were left behind.


The Supreme Sacrifice© is a product of the Line of Duty Research Service. This product may not be used in any form for commercial venture or for monetary gain without the expressed written permission of the Line of Duty Research Service. Copyright© 1999. All rights reserved.