Illinois Fire Service Institute

 

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name August Kirchoff
Agency Peoria Fire Department
Rank Firefighter
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 20 and under
Sex Male
Date of Birth 12/30/1870
Date of Death 4/17/1888
Cause of Death Struck by object
Nature of Death Trauma
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Peoria
Incident State IL
Incident Date 4/16/1888 20:55
Incident Location Industry/ Manufacturing
Incident Attribute Structural collapses , Fires

Incident Summary

August Kirchoff, just 17, was the first Peoria fireman killed in the line of duty. He died from injuries sustained while fighting a fire at the Gus Lisey City Brewery at 705 North Water Street (later the site of PMP fermentation). Born December 30, 1870, to August and Ida Kirchoff, he was survived by his sisters, Martha, Emma and Ida of Peoria, and an older brother of the Wyoming territory. In his spare time, young Kirchoff frequented the Holly Hose House on the corner of Sanford Street and Prairie Alley (presently Aiken Avenue), just two blocks south of his home. There, Kirchoff frequently cleaned the apparatus floor and stables, washed and rolled the fire hoses, and polished the brass fittings and fixtures. The crew of Holly Hose House soon became Kirchoff’s family, and from time to time, the house captain permitted the young fire buff to ride with Hose Co. 2 to alarms.

Shortly before 9PM on Monday, April 16, 1888, Box Alarm 16 signaled a fire at the brewery. Fire Marshal Carl Moeller arrived on the scene and immediately called for a “33 All Hands” general alarm of all available personnel. The men of Holly Hose Co. responded to the call, and Kirchoff rode with them to the scene. Aware that every available man was needed, Moeller offered Kirchoff an official appointment to Holly Hose House Co. 2 shortly after midnight, April 17, 1888. Kirchoff accepted enthusiastically.

Around 12:30AM, just four hours after the initial alarm and less than 30 minutes after Kirchoff’s appointment, disaster struck. Five firemen-- John McKee, James Hazzard, Fred Brons, Harry Palmer and August Kirchoff-- were advancing a hoseline into the ruins of the malt house when a huge brick wall crashed down upon them. With brick and mortar piled high above the fallen men, firefighters and officers alike worked frantically to free them. McKee, Hazzard, Palmer and Brons eventually recovered from their injuries. Kirchoff, however, died from a fractured skull.

At 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21, 1888, memorial services were held for August E. Kirchoff. One of the largest ever witnessed in Peoria, the funeral procession started at Calvary Church on First and Fisher Streets and ended at Springdale Cemetery. The entire Peoria Fire Department participated in the procession, and members of the Holly Hose House served as pallbearers. August Kirchoff not only maintains the distinction of being the youngest member of the Peoria Fire Department but also of serving the shortest official time. He served less than one hour.

Summary by Marty Baker and Doug Brignall, Peoria Fire Department


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