Illinois Fire Service Institute

 

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name George Babich
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Firefighter
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 46 to 50
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 3/27/1958
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 Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 3/27/1958
Incident Location Store/Office
Incident Attribute Structural collapses , Arson , Fires

Incident Summary

On March 27, 1958, the Chicago Fire Department responded to an alarm at 3:00 AM for a fire at the South Shore Lincoln-Mercury auto garage on E. 71st St. More than 20 firefighters were inside the building trying to find the source of the flames when the roof collapsed. Seven firefighters were injured and George Babich (Truck 49), Maurice Crotty (Engine Co. 126), and Philip Sheehan (Truck 49) were killed by the collapse.

Initial investigations focused on the possibility of arson, as a bystander on scene claimed to have seen two men leaving the building shortly before the fire was discovered, but no other witnesses corroborated the story. The coroner’s inquest raised questions about whether or not it had been too dangerous for firefighters to enter the building in the first place, but Battalion Chief John P. Lenihan testified that the fire appeared no more dangerous than any other. The jury eventually ruled that the three deaths were accidental. Based on the failure of the wooden truss supporting the laminated roof structure, the jury recommended enacting a law requiring all wooden truss roofs to be insulated with fireproof materials.

Citations:

“Arson Quiz Begun After Death of 3 Firemen,” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 28, 1958.

“Demand Probe of ‘Negligence’ in Fire Deaths,” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 29, 1958.

“Hold Rites for Fireman Killed Fighting Blaze,” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 30, 1958.

“Rule Accident Caused Deaths of 3 Firemen,” Chicago Daily Tribune, April 16, 1958.


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