|Agency||Champaign Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||31 to 35|
|Date of Birth||10/16/1927|
|Date of Death||3/5/1960|
|Cause of Death||Contact/Exposure|
|Nature of Death||Asphyxiation , Burns|
|Attribute of Death||Smoke inhalation|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations|
On March 4, 1960, Champaign Fire Department Firefighter Edward M. Hoffman was overcome by smoke and gas fumes while fighting a residential basement fire on New Street. He died from his injuries on March 5, and was the first Champaign firefighter to die in the line of duty.
Hoffman responded to the fire with Engine 2 and entered the house with Firefighter Joseph Webber, but they were almost immediately overcome by fumes and smoke pouring up from the basement. Despite his injuries, Webber was able to make it out of the house and he notified other firefighters that Hoffman was trapped in the kitchen. Firefighter James Conerty immediately entered the house and successfully rescued Hoffman, who was transported to Burnham City Hospital with severe injuries. Hoffman was placed in an oxygen tent, and off-duty firefighters kept a vigil at his bedside until he died from his injuries the following day. Hoffman was survived by his wife and four children.
On March 5, 2010, the Champaign Fire Department held a public memorial service in West Side Park on the fiftieth anniversary of Hoffman's line of duty death. The service was attended by Hoffman’s brother, as well as a number of retired firefighters who were on the department at the time of Hoffman’s death.
“Fireman Is In ‘Poor’ Condition,” News-Gazette, March 5, 1960.
“Fireman Dies; Line of Duty: Hoffman First Casualty For Champaign,” News-Gazette, March 6, 1960.