IFLODD: Firefighter Memorial

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Richard Kowalzyk
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Firefighter
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 31 to 35
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 1/6/1973
Cause of Death Struck by object
Nature of Death Trauma
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations

Incident Details

Incident Name Forum Cafeteria Fire
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 1/6/1973
Incident Location Public assembly
Incident Attribute Structural collapses , Fires

Incident Summary

On January 6, 1973, three Chicago Fire Department firefighters died in the line of duty, and twenty-eight others were injured, while battling a fire in the Chicago Loop. Firefighters Richard E. Kowalzyk of Engine 104, Timothy Moran of Engine 25, and Alfred Stach, the driver for 2nd Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Lucas, died when the roof of the two-story Forum Cafeteria on W. Madison Street collapsed during a fire.

Dozens of firefighters responded to the extra-alarm blaze, and more than sixty were operating inside the building when the roof began to crack and pull away from the walls. Unbeknownst to the firefighters, flames inside the false ceiling on the second floor of the building had been eating away at the roof supports for several minutes. After seeing the roof buckle, officers began to pull the firefighters out, but not all were able to escape before the roof collapsed. A number of firefighters were trapped and buried by the rubble, but firefighters were able to rescue most of their trapped colleagues before they suffered serious injuries. Some firefighters even escaped the rubble by sliding down a dumbwaiter shaft into the still secure basement of the restaurant.

Kowalzyk, Moran, and Stach were memorialized during a combined funeral procession and service held at Holy Name Cathedral on January 9.


“Three firemen killed, 28 hurt as roof falls in Loop café blaze,” Chicago Tribune, January 7, 1973.

“Official probe begins into blaze that killed 3 firemen,” Chicago Tribune, January 8, 1973.

“Joint service for 3 firemen is set today,” Chicago Tribune, January 9, 1973.

“Mourn 3 city fire fighters,” Chicago Tribune, January 10, 1973.

“Slow drums mourn 3 firemen killed in city,” Chicago Tribune, January 10, 1973.

Firefighter and Incident Images