IFLODD: Firefighter Memorial

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name John Spellman
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Battalion Chief
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 46 to 50
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 6/1/1967
Cause of Death Contact/Exposure
Nature of Death Electrocution
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations , Ladder operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 6/1/1967
Incident Location Residential
Incident Attribute Electrical hazards , Fires

Incident Summary

On June 1, 1967, Battalion Chief John P. Spellman of Chicago Fire Department Battalion 7, died in the line of duty during a multi-structure fire near the intersection of 17th Street and South Racine Avenue. The fire started in a garage, but quickly spread to two adjacent apartment buildings. After arriving on scene, Spellman was helping firefighters from Truck 5 place a ground ladder when the aluminum ladder hit high tension wires. Spellman was electrocuted and collapsed. He was taken to the University of Illinois Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Spellman had joined the Chicago Fire Department in 1943, and was promoted to battalion chief in 1961. He was a respected fire service leader, having designed an extensive building inspection procedure that was adopted by a number of fire departments nationally. Also, because his battalion’s jurisdiction included a number of Chicago’s highways and expressways, Spellman was a major advocate for automobile fire and extrication training.

Mass for Spellman was held at Santa Maria del Popolo Catholic Church in Mundelein on June 5. He was survived by his wife, five children, and four siblings.


“Chief Killed Fighting Fire on South Side,” Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1967.

“Cause Sought After Death of Fire Chief,” Chicago Tribune, June 3, 1967.

Firefighter and Incident Images

Firefighter and Incident Audio

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