|Agency||Alton Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||46 to 50|
|Date of Birth||1/28/1897|
|Date of Death||1/11/1946|
|Cause of Death||Contact/Exposure|
|Nature of Death||Asphyxiation|
|Attribute of Death||Smoke inhalation|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations|
On January 11, 1946, the Alton Fire Department received an alarm at 9:12 AM for a fire in a two-story house containing four apartments. Firefighters from Engine Companies No. 1 and No. 2 responded to the blaze, arriving to find one downstairs apartment engulfed in fire and smoke. Despite the thick smoke, firefighters attacked the blaze from the porch of the building and, after two hours, successfully extinguished the blaze. While the other apartments in the building sustained some water and smoke damage, the flames had been successfully contained in the one apartment.
During the firefighting operations, Firefighter Michael Bensman, a ten year veteran with Engine Company No. 1, was overcome by smoke. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. A few days later Bensman was buried at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, with his fellow firefighters acting as pallbearers and honor guards. During the funeral, firefighters from Wood River, Western Cartridge Company, and the Milton Fire Department covered Alton’s firehouses so that all of Bensman’s colleagues could attend the services.