Firemen pay homage to the fallen

Every year, on July 22, at precisely 2:25 p.m., Evanston’s firefighting community performs a Remembrance Ceremony to honor the lives of three fallen firefighters.

That solemn ceremony was held today at Firemen’s Park, at Simpson Street and Maple Avenue, for about 50 residents, city officials, police, and firefighters to mark “a day we will always remember,” in the words of Division Chief Brian Scott, who presided in the absence of Chief Greg Klaiber, who was out of the city.

Fifth Ward Ald. Dolores Holmes, at left, was among the attendees.

The fallen firefighters were Marty Leoni, William Craig, and George Stiles. They are the only firefighters killed in the line of duty in the department’s 139 years of existence.

The most recent was Leoni, who died on July 22, 1985, in a fire at 1927 Jackson Ave, while entering a burning building to rescue a child he was told was inside.

Craig and Stiles were killed fighting a fire on Dec. 13, 1905, at the old Mark Manufacturing Co. building at 1900 Dempster St., when they were buried under burning debris.

Department Chaplain David Jones speaks on behalf of the departed firefighters.

Firemen’s Park, created in 1993, honors the three fallen firefighters.

In keeping with tradition, a cookout was held at the park following today’s ceremony.

Top: Division Chief Scott presiding at the ceremony.




We remember all who were lost

It is important that we also remember Firefighter Patrick Reif, lost to cardiac arrest in 2010, Captain Peter Hanchar, lost to pancreatic cancer in 2006, and Firefighter George Dwyer lost to cancer in 2005, all of whom died in the line of duty, if not on the scene of a fire.

While cardiac incidents such as arrest or stroke on the job are automatically considered an occupationally-related illness, the Line of Duty designation is reserved for specific cancers that can be directly linked to occupational exposures. We have lost members of our department to cancers that do not recieve this designation, and I would like to honor them and their families as well.

We also remember Police Officer Warren Henry Omslaer, Detective James Shea and Patrolman George W. Daugherty who died protecting the citizens of Evanston.