Illinois Fire Service Institute

 

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Jeremiah O'Rourke
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Pipeman
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 31 to 35
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 1/27/1897
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 1/26/1897 18:24
Incident Location Store/Office
Incident Attribute Basement fires , Structural collapses , Fires

Incident Summary

On January 26, 1897, Chicago Fire Department Pipeman Jeremiah O’Rourke of Engine 6 was fatally injured in the line of duty while fighting a 4-11 alarm commercial fire that destroyed two six-story buildings on W. Monroe Street. O’Rourke was buried in debris when an outer wall of the Singer Building collapsed during the fire.

Despite freezing temperatures that froze fire equipment to the sidewalks, more than 70 pieces of fire apparatus responded to the fire alarm, and Engine 6 was among the fire companies that were stationed on the roof of an adjacent building to protect exposure buildings. Firefighters on the roof had several seconds notice before the wall of the Singer Building collapsed, but O’Rourke slipped on the icy roof, fell, and was crushed under the bricks and other debris.

Firefighters rescued O’Rourke and he was transported to Cook County Hospital, where surgeons amputated both of his legs. He died from his injuries the following day, January 27, and was survived by his parents and four sisters.

Six other firefighters and four spectators were seriously injured by the falling wall, and another twenty firefighters suffered frostbite injuries.

Citations:

“Big Fire in the Down-Town District,” Chicago Daily Tribune, January 27, 1897.

“Ice-Coated Ruins of Monroe Street Buildings Where Fireman O’Rourke Met Death,” Chicago Daily Tribune, January 28, 1897.


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