|Agency||Monmouth Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||46 to 50|
|Date of Birth||12/7/1946|
|Date of Death||3/6/1993|
|Cause of Death||Struck by object|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations|
On March 6, 1993, Assistant Chief Dennis R. Olson of the Monmouth Fire Department died in the line of duty while fighting an arson fire in a furniture store.
During the morning of March 5, the Monmouth Fire Department responded to a bomb threat targeting seven local schools. While firefighters were assisting with the evacuation of the schools, a fire was deliberately started in a storage room at a furniture store adjacent to the fire station. Firefighters responded to the fire shortly after 1:30PM, and by 6:30PM they had thoroughly extinguished the fire and returned to headquarters.
The following morning, a Monmouth police officer reported another fire at the furniture store at 6:14AM. Unlike the confined fire from the previous day, firefighters who responded to this second fire found the building fully involved in flames. Olson participated in active firefighting operations, and he was fatally injured by debris when the roof and west wall of the structure collapsed. He was transported to Community Memorial Hospital, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Monmouth firefighters battled the blaze throughout the day, with mutual aid assistance from the Galesburg Fire Department, the Roseville Fire Department, and the Central Warren County Fire Protection District. After the fire was extinguished, investigators found traces of flammable liquids in the remnants of the store, and eight months later two men were arrested for setting the fires in an effort to cover up theft and corrupt business practices. In 1995, both men were sentenced to more than twenty years in prison.
Funeral services for Olson were held at Immanuel Baptist Church on March 9, and he was interred at Warren County Memorial Park Cemetery. Nearly four hundred firefighters and 25 fire apparatus joined the funeral procession. Olson was survived by his widow, two children, and his parents.
A lifelong resident of Monmouth and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, Olson was a member of the Monmouth Fire Department for 24 years. He joined the department in May 1969, became a captain in February 1975, and was promoted to assistant chief in October 1979.
“Fireman dies as Term City blazes again,” Register-Mail, March 8, 1993.
“Firefighters bury one of their own,” Journal Star, March 10, 1993.
“Hundreds pay final respects to Olson,” Register-Mail, March 10, 1993.
“Arson was the cause,” Register-Mail, March 12, 1993.
“2 residents jailed in fatal store fire,” Register-Mail, November 18, 1993.
“Arson killer gets 24 years,” Review Atlas, March 23, 1995.