Illinois Fire Service Institute

 

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name John O'Rourke
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Pipeman
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range [Unknown]
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 11/14/1877
Cause of Death Struck by object
Nature of Death Trauma
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations , Hose operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 11/14/1877 20:4
Incident Location Store/Office
Incident Attribute Structural collapses , Attic fires , Fires

Incident Summary

On November 14, 1877, three Chicago Fire Department firefighters were fatally injured in the line of duty while fighting a commercial fire at the Field, Leiter & Co. department store (the predecessor to Marshal Field & Co.) located at State and Washington Streets.

The fire started in an unusual, partial attic space between the building’s fifth floor and the roof, where another fire had started four years earlier. Firefighters arrived on scene shortly after 8PM, but because it was so difficult to access the attic space, the roof and upper two floors of the buildings were filled with flames by 9PM. Eventually firefighters and hose lines were positioned on the second and third floors of the building, with fire streams aimed up elevator shafts to the flames on the upper stories. When a portion of the upper floors gave way, a number of these firefighters were caught in a structural collapse.

Pipeman John O’Rourke of Engine 6 was killed in the collapse. Funeral services for O’Rourke were held at the Church of the Sacred Heart on November 17, and he was buried at Calvary Cemetery.

Pipeman Charles A. Dudley of Engine 17 suffocated after he was overcome by smoke while operating on the building’s fifth floor. Funeral services for Dudley were held on November 18.

Lieutenant John Scharrenberg of Engine 6, who was injured in the collapse, died from his injuries on December 17.

Citations:

“The Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 15, 1877.

“Dead and Wounded,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 15, 1877.

“Some Aspects of the Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 16, 1877.

“How She Looked,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 16, 1877.

“O’Rourke,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 18, 1877.

“The Fireman’s Funeral,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 19, 1877.


Firefighter and Incident Images

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Firefighter and Incident Audio

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