|Agency||Peoria Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||26 to 30|
|Date of Birth||1/7/1895|
|Date of Death||1/7/1924|
|Cause of Death||Struck by object|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations , Hose operations|
Fireman Frank A. “Tony” Fosco, 28, died due to injuries sustained while fighting a routine house fire. He resided at 311 Kettelle Street and was survived by his wife, Anna, and three sons, Frank Henry, Louis John and Edward Andrew. Fosco was appointed to the Peoria Fire Department in 1920 and served his entire nine-year career at Fire Station 3 as a member of Engine Co. 3.
On January 6, 1924, the Peoria Fire Department answered a record nineteen alarms. The fatigue, along with the bitter cold weather, hampered the men in the completion of their assignments, yet they stayed “in the harness” (wearing their heavy rubber coats and boots), always ready to answer the next alarm.
At 1:56 p.m., Alarm Box 325 sounded, signaling a fire at 811 West Russell Street. Less than ¼ mile away, Engine Co. 3 was the first to arrive. At that point, only the roof of the two-story frame house, owned and occupied by Frank Hunt and family, was ablaze. In spite of the cold weather, the firemen managed to keep the fire from extending to adjoining structures, with the exception of an adjacent house that sustained only minor damage. In a daring attempt to save the Hunt’s house, Fosco led a group of men onto the roof of the porch at the front of the house. As they began to hose down the second floor, fire suddenly burst through the roof. The fire-weakened roof joist gave way, and the large brick chimney collapsed on the firemen.
Fosco was knocked to the ground and lay unconscious as his comrades rushed to his aid. Though wearing a heavy metal helmet, he was struck on the head by several masonry blocks and severely injured. Several other firemen were also struck by the falling bricks, but none were as seriously injured as Fosco. He was taken to Methodist Hospital with severe head injuries. He died less than 24 hours later, with his family at his side.
Under the direction of the Peoria Fire Department and the American Legion, funeral services were held for Frank A. “Tony” Fosco on Wednesday, January 8, 1924, one day past his 29th birthday. Forty firemen, under the command of Chief Kenny and Assistant Chief Hammam, escorted their friend to St. Mary’s Cemetery. An American Legion Firing Squad and 20 Peoria policemen served as an honor guard. In honor of a fallen brother, the Peoria Fire Department rang every fire alarm in the city 22 times, signifying “fire out” or the “termination of an incident.”
Summary by Marty Baker and Doug Brignall, Peoria Fire Department