IFLODD: Firefighter Memorial

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Thomas O'Boyle
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Lieutenant
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 51 to 55
Sex Male
Date of Birth 9/26/1940
Date of Death 9/26/1995
Cause of Death Stress/Overexertion
Nature of Death Heart attack
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 9/26/1995 11:42
Incident Location Store/Office
Incident Attribute Fires

Incident Summary

On Tuesday, September 26, 1995, at approximately 11:42AM, the Main Fire Alarm Office of the Chicago Fire Department received a 911 call for a fire at a furniture store on W. Grand Avenue. Engines 44 and 57, along with Trucks 36 and 35, responded on the still alarm, along with the 6th Battalion and Squad 2. The first on-scene commander found large amounts of black smoke and reddish flames shooting out of the front door entrance, and immediately requested that a box alarm be struck.

The fire continued to progress leading to a 2-11 alarm that brought Fire Commissioner Raymond E. Orozco and his administrative assistant, Lieutenant Thomas O’Boyle, to the scene. Upon his arrival, Orozco took command of the incident and found the fire to be of such a magnitude that he ordered the fire alarm office to strike a 3-11 alarm. Orozco then began walking around the fire scene to size up the situation in order to determine his next tactical move.

It is the duty of the administrative assistant to the fire commissioner to follow the fire commissioner around the fire scene in order to assist him in various functions, such as relaying messages to other fireground personnel. It is not uncommon for the commissioner’s assistant to help other firefighters in raising ladders, stretching hose lines, tightening hose couplings, or pulling and straightening hose lines to prevent kinking. It is very likely that O’Boyle performed some of these functions at the scene of this fire.

Another function that O’Boyle was involved in was going into the burning structure with the fire commissioner in order to determine the extent of the fire. While in the building, both Orozco and O’Boyle were physically involved in pushing and pulling heavy objects, such as furniture, in order to gain access to various points and to minimize smoke and water damage.

Upon exiting the building, the Orozco became aware that a second extra alarm fire was burning in the 2400 block of South Wood Street. Orozco ordered O’Boyle to alert the Captain of Squad 2 that he should start “picking up” because Squad 2 might be needed to respond to the other extra alarm.

O’Boyle hastily ran over to replay the message, but became dizzy and had to steady himself on a fire truck. Witnesses indicated that O’Boyle then grabbed his chest and began to fall, but he was caught by other firefighters who laid him down and provided medical assistance, including CPR.

Ambulance 45 was standing by at the fire scene and the paramedics responded to the front of the fire building to treat O’Boyle. The paramedics found that O’Boyle was cyanotic with no pulse, so he was lifted onto a stretcher and placed in the ambulance. Advanced Life Support was initiated, but there were no spontaneous respirations. O’Boyle was intubated and placed on a Univent, CPR was continued, and he was given medication by way of the endotracheal tube. Ambulance 45 then transported him to Saint Mary’s Hospital.

Ambulance 45 arrived at Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital Emergency Room at approximately 1:20PM, and O’Boyle was turned over to the emergency room staff. O’Boyle was in full cardiac arrest upon arrival at the hospital, however, and all efforts to resuscitate him failed. He was pronounced dead at 14:03 hours by the attending emergency room physician.

Summary provided by Chicago Fire Department.

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