|Agency||Chicago Fire Department|
|Rank||Deputy Fire Marshal|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||56 to 60|
|Date of Birth||0/0/0|
|Date of Death||10/8/1954|
|Cause of Death||Fall|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations|
On October 7, 1954, Chicago Fire Department Second Deputy Fire Marshal Paul H. Conners died in the line of duty while fighting an extra alarm fire at the Streamdine Cafeteria on Roosevelt Road. A firefighter for thirty-six years and deputy second marshal for three years, Conners was killed when the restaurant floor collapsed and he fell twenty feet into the basement.
The first firefighters to reach the scene found flames shooting from gas meters in the restaurant basement, but quickly contained the visible fire. The firefighters were preparing to leave the scene when an explosion suddenly occurred, spreading the fire throughout the two-story building, which also housed a cleaning shop and a banquet hall.
Conners responded to the fire after an extra alarm was sounded, and was helping to direct firefighting operations from the center of the restaurant when the floor began to sway. Realizing that the weakened floor was about to collapse, Conners ordered firefighters to evacuate the building, but was unable to escape himself before the floor collapsed. Three other firefighters were also caught in the collapse, but they were able to hold onto hose lines and were pulled to safety. Attempts by these firefighters and others to immediately locate Conners were unsuccessful due to the severity of the smoke and flames in the basement.
Rescue efforts were further complicated by a broken water main that flooded the basement, but more than four hours after the fire was extinguished, rescuers recovered the body of Conners, buried under debris. Fourteen other firefighters suffered burns, smoke inhalation, and other injuries during the fire, and six were treated at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
Funeral mass for Conners was held at St. Ethelreda’s Church on October 11, and he was buried on October 12 at Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his widow, three children, and seven grandchildren.
“Marshal’s Aid Missing in Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 8, 1954.
“Aid of Marshal Warns Others, And Dies in Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 9, 1954.
“Study Building Code Records in Fatal Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 10, 1954.