"THE SUPREME SACRIFICE"

By Hank Przybylowicz

February 3


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


1848 - PHILADELPHIA, PA
Vol. F/F Roger Kelly
He died in the performance of his duties.

1863 - MANHATTAN, NY
Vol. Capt. John Slowey - Engine 19 - 14-year veteran
Vol. F/F George Badger - Engine 19
While operating at a major fire in a cracker bakery, they were crushed to death when they were caught under a collapsing wall. A third firefighter was seriously injured in the collapse.

1903 - MILWAUKEE, WI
Capt. Andrew White - Truck 1
During the afternoon, firefighters were called to a stamp and seal factory after an acid carboy broke on the second floor, filling the building with fumes. Firefighters spent time venting the building, removing the carboy, and cleaning up the spill with sawdust. Damage to the building was minor. By early evening, White complained of feeling ill at quarters and went to bed. A dozen other men who were at the scene began to complain of choking and breathing difficulties also. White's condition worsened and he died seven hours after breathing in the acid fumes, his lungs fatally seared by the caustic effects of the acid. Chief Foley was at his bedside, he himself being sick from the fumes. At least nine other members were also overcome by the fumes, three of whom died the next day.

1918 - STATEN ISLAND, NY
F/F Michael Wall - Engine 151
He died as a result of injuries sustained December 31st, 1917, when he fell down a pole hole in quarters

1925 - MANHATTAN, NY
F/F William R. Fletcher - Age 38 - Rescue 1
On arrival, firefighters found very heavy smoke showing from the cellar of a six-story brick loft building. The stubborn fire went to three alarms as firefighters attempted to get to the seat of the blaze. At the height of the fire, holes were cut in the first floor, and a dozen men, led by the lieutenant of Rescue 1 and a battalion chief, entered the smoke-filled basement. All of the men had to be carried out. Fletcher could not be revived at the scene and was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead of smoke inhalation.

1939 - SYRACUSE, NY
Chief Charles Boynton - 40-year veteran
Chief Thomas Dugan - 23-year veteran
Lt. Albert Young - Engine 2 - 23-year veteran
Lt. Raymond Bauder - Engine 3 - 13-year veteran
Lt. David Lavine - Engine 6 - 22-year veteran
F/F John Agan - Engine 1 - 19-year veteran
F/F James Diamond - Engine 1 - 11-year veteran
F/F Gregory Dixon - Engine 3 - 19-year veteran
F/F Frank Kerlin - Truck 6 - 16-year veteran
Upon responding on a verbal alarm, firefighters found a working fire in the five-story brick commercial block structure. The building was vacant except for a restaurant on the first floor. The fire grew to general-alarm proportions and took two hours to bring under control. After the main body of fire was brought under control, the Chief of Department made a visual inspection of all floors and areas in the building. Upon seeing no signs of instability he allowed firefighters to enter the building to begin overhaul operations. As some of the companies began to pick up their hose, a rumble was heard and the upper floors in the rear of the building began to collapse. Some of the men working inside were able to quickly climb down ladders at the front windows, however, many were caught in the collapse as it gained momentum and were carried down to the ground floor, being buried under tons of rubble. Rescue operations were immediately started, but fears arose that more men might be buried if the remaining front wall should collapse. Everyone was removed from the site and a cable attached to an apparatus was used to pull down the remaining wall. Cranes were brought to the scene to assist in removing the tons of rubble that had buried nine men. Every now and then, the fire would flare up and rescuers would have to halt their rescue operations to beat back the renewed flames. It took firefighters two days to recover the last of their fallen brothers. A total of nine firefighters were killed in the collapse, making it the most tragic fire in SFD history.

1945 - CHICAGO, IL
F/F Fred Rohde - Truck 9
He died of asphyxiation while operating at a fire.

1946 - BOSTON, MA
Capt. Stephen F. Gunn - Age 46 - Engine 2
F/F Edward J. Barrett - Age 55 - Engine 2
They were killed when they were caught under a collapsing roof while operating at a three-alarm fire involving the Irish-American Club.

1947 - COLUMBUS, OH
Capt. John O'Riley - Engine 6 - 16-year veteran
He suffered a fatal heart attack while operating at a fire involving a commercial structure.

1955 - MINNEAPOLIS, MN
F/F Orney P. Hoaglund - Chief's Aide
Upon just pulling the chief's car up to the curb at a fire in a department store, he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He died in the ambulance while en route to the hospital.

1969 - HOUSTON, TX
Capt. Steve C. Baranowski - Age 61 - Station 37 - 27-year veteran
While operating on the roof at a dwelling fire, he suddenly collapsed in full arrest. F/Fs started CPR and he was rushed to the hospital, where he died as the result of a heart attack.

1971 - NEW BEDFORD, MA
F/F Mathews E. Winn - Age 63 - Ladder 3 - 23-year veteran
While moving a hoseline on the roof while operating at a fire, he suddenly collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died a short time later.

1973 - HOUSTON, TX
Capt. Lewis W. Richardson - Age 57 - Station 7 - 31-year veteran
After operating at a stubborn apartment fire, he complained of chest pain, dropped to his knees, and then lapsed into unconsciousness. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a massive heart attack.

1988 - LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, IN
EMS Dep. Chief David J. Edwards - Age 28
Firefighters responded to a fire that had occurred in the basement of a single-family residence due to an overheated furnace. As he entered the first floor kitchen area, the floor collapsed, plunging him into the blazing basement. Due to the heavy volume of fire in the basement, he could not be rescued immediately and he died in the fire. Ironically, Edwards had grown up in the same neighborhood and had toured the fire building as a child in the '70s, when it was shown to his parents as a model of what their new home would look like. Their house was identical to the one that later burned.

1989 - BROOKLYN, NY
F/F John P. Devaney - Age 36 - Ladder 131 - 9-year veteran
On arrival, firefighters found heavy fire and smoke showing from the second floor of an occupied, four-story brick tenement, with people trapped. As the outside vent man, Devaney climbed the fire escape and entered a third floor window to search for possible trapped occupants. Shortly after he went in the window, the room flashed over, knocking him down and engulfing the in flames. He was found lying in a fetal position, critically burned, with his boots burnt off. All attempts to revive him proved futile and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

1998 - PHILADELPHIA, PA
Lt. Stephen E. Murphy - Age 47 - Ladder 1 - 23-year veteran
He died as a result of the acute heart attack he suffered while operating at a single-alarm house fire on January 27th. He had just transferred to Ladder 1 less than three weeks prior to his death.

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© 2000. All rights reserved.