|Agency||Chicago Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Date of Birth||0/0/0|
|Date of Death||10/2/1888|
|Cause of Death||Caught/Trapped|
|Nature of Death||Asphyxiation|
|Attribute of Death||Drowning|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations , Ladder operations|
On October 2, 1888, Chicago Fire Department Truckman Matthias Kettern of Truck 3 died in the line of duty while fighting a fire on the John Breedon tow barge. The boat’s coal elevator caught fire as it was unloading coal at the Chicago River docks on Erie Street, and Truck 3 was among the first fire companies to respond. Kettern placed a fire department ladder along the side of the barge, but the boat shifted while he was climbing the ladder and he fell into the river. Kettern surfaced twice to call for help, but his heavy coat and boots pulled him underwater. Firefighters dragged the river immediately, but were unable to rescue Kettern before he drowned.
“Fireman Kettern Loses His Life,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 3, 1888.