Illinois Fire Service Institute

 

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Perry Hunsaker
Agency Quincy Fire Department
Rank Pipeman
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 31 to 35
Sex Male
Date of Birth 2/1/1860
Date of Death 7/23/1895
Cause of Death Fall
Nature of Death Trauma
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations , Ladder operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Quincy
Incident State IL
Incident Date 7/22/1895 22:0
Incident Location Store/Office
Incident Attribute Structural collapses , Fires

Incident Summary

On July 22, 1895, the Quincy Fire Department received an alarm just before 10 PM for a fire at the Wright and Adams’ Foundry, located at 326 through 332 North Front Street. The first firefighters on scene discovered a massive fire that was deemed “a seething furnace beyond all hope and salvation” by a local newspaper. Firefighting crews concentrated their efforts on saving the machine shop department to the south of the building and the five-story hotel to the north.

Perry Hunsaker was a hoseman and foreman for Company Number 4, whose Engine House was located at 5th and State. July 22 was his one monthly day off duty and he spent it with his wife Annie, to whom he had been married for one year. On that day, they went fishing together in the bottoms south of Quincy. They returned home in the evening and a short time later, heard the alarm for the fire. Hunsaker laid his watch down and hurried off to do his job. As he looked outside and saw the glow of the fire in the sky, he said to his wife, “I guess this will be an all night’s job.”

Once at the scene of the fire, Hunsaker scaled a ladder to try to fight the flames from the top of the foundry department wall. Seconds after he reached the top, the wall shook and then fell outward. Hunsaker had the presence of mind to hold onto the ladder and ride it down instead of jumping clear and becoming crushed under the falling wall. Sadly, the force of the fall was too great. He died an hour later at St. Mary’s Hospital from the injuries he received.

Hunsaker was born in Shelby County, Missouri on February 1, 1860. Just over a year later his family moved to Quincy. Here he attended school and learned the trade of tobacconist. When the opportunity arose, he left his trade to join the fire department. He was very athletic and, like most firefighters still today, loved to hunt and fish. He was described as a large, powerfully built man with the physique of Apollo and the heart of an ox. He was 35 years old and was survived by his parents and his wife.

Summary by James Pioch, Quincy Fire Department.

Citations:

"156 Years of Smoke, Sweat, and Courage: The History of the Quincy Fire Department" by Marcia Kuhlman Cray


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