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    Updated: Aug. 16 (05:59)

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  • Memphis Line of Duty Deaths

    PETER MEATH, January 6, 1880, Pipeman assigned to the steamer William Kehoe No. 2, died while fighting a fire at 383-389 Main Street at 9:30 p.m.  The fire involved a two-story building that housed the Louis Lange corset factory and the M. Henochsberg Company, a dealer in picture frames and looking glasses. Meath was one of three firefighters injured when a wall collapsed during the fire. He had been with the department for two years. Peter Meath was 24 years old and unmarried.

    EDWARD LEONARD, January 7, 1880, Hoseman assigned to the steamer William Kehoe No. 2, was injured while fighting a fire at 383-389 Main Street at 9:30 p. m. on January 6, 1880. The fire involved a two-story building that housed the Louis Lange corset factory and the M. Henochsberg Company, a dealer in picture frames and looking glasses. Leonard was one of three firefighters injured when a wall collapsed during the fire, he died the following morning.  Ed Leonard, who had been with the department for one year, was married and the father of two children.

    CHARLES B. DAVIS, April 22, 1883, Captain assigned to the steamer Danbury No. 1, died while fighting a fire at P. J. Kelly's Saloon on the east side of Main Street just north of Adams at 3:30 a.m.. Davis, one of two firefighters injured when a wall collapsed, was hurled against the side of Scheibler's Hide Store next door. He had served a number of years on the department, including time as First Engineer on the steamer Liberty Fire Company No. 3 during the volunteer days. Captain Charles B. Davis was 44 years old and would have been married on the following Thursday.

    PETER McMANUS, November 14,1884, Pipeman assigned to the steamer Danbury No. 1, was injured while fighting a fire at P. J. Kelly's Saloon on the east side of Main Street just north of Adams at 3:30 a.m. on April 22, 1883. He was one of two firefighters injured when a wall collapsed during the fire. He was removed from the rubble and it appeared that he was not seriously injured. However, the effects of his injuries lingered on and Peter McManus died on November 14,1884.

    FRANK C. HARVEY, July 5, 1904, Assistant Driver assigned to Truck No. 1, was one of four firefighters injured while fighting a fire at the Pease & Dwyer Grain Company at 278 Front Street, shortly after midnight.  He fell down an elevator shaft from the third floor to the basement. He was removed and taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died of shock a few hours later. Frank C. Harvey, who had been with the department for several months, was 22 years old and was soon to have been married.

    WILLIAM COX, May 3, 1905, Hose Reel Driver assigned to Engine 4, was one of three firefighters injured while fighting a fire at the Crane Company warehouse at Front Street and Auction Avenue at 8:00 p.m. on April 20, 1905. The injuries came as a temporary floor collapsed during the fire. Cox was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with a head injury and severe burns where he remained there until his death. William Cox, 35, had been with the department for several months. He was married and the father of three children.

    JOSEPH HISKEY, July 28, 1907, Driver assigned to Engine Co. 5, was injured while fighting a fire at Front Street and Union Avenue at 1:00 a.m. The fire damaged a number of businesses, including the Memphis Cold Storage Warehouse, the Oliver-Finnie Grocer Company, the Memphis Paper Company, and the Cudahy Packing Company. Hiskey was injured in the early stages of the fire, when he was running in an alley in the darkness and fell through a grating some 22 feet into an excavation below the buildings. He was taken to City Hospital, where he died. Joseph Hiskey, 34, had been with the department for over four years. He was married and the father of five children.

    WILLIAM NELSON,  April 27, 1913, Ladderman assigned to Truck No. 2, was one of five firefighters injured while fighting a fire in a residence at 78 Commerce Avenue at 3:10 a.m. on April 20, 1913. The injuries came when a porch collapsed during the fire. Nelson, with a cut on his head and compound fracture of his ankle, was taken to St Joseph's Hospital, he developed lockjaw and died there on April 27, 1913. William Nelson had been with the department for eight years. He was 28 years and unmarried.

    HENRY BENSON, January 17, 1917, Stoker assigned to Engine 9, was injured when the steamer overturned at Main and Union on January 16, 1917. The company was responding to a fire at 205 Second Street. Benson was driving in the absence of the regular driver, who was at supper. As a southbound turn was made from Union onto Main Street, the wheels slid on the snow-covered street and struck the tracks of the Memphis Street Railway Company, causing the engine and horses to overturn. Benson was pinned under the steam chest and badly scalded before bystanders lifted the engine and released him. He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he died the following day, on January 17, 1917. Henry Benson, who had been with the department for seven years, was unmarried and lived with his aunt.

    THOMAS MEREDITH, February 21, 1917, Captain assigned to Truck 3, died of smoke inhalation while fighting a fire in the 1200 block of Azalia Street on February 21, 1917. A small grass fire started at 1237 Azalia and quickly spread to other homes on Azalia and on College Street. Meredith collapsed while directing his company. He had recently returned to duty after an illness of pneumonia and it was believed that the weakened condition of his lungs contributed to his death. Captain Thomas Meredith, a widower, was 54 years old and had been with the department for about twenty years.

    FRANK CAMPAGNA, September 9, 1918, Ladderman assigned to Hook & Ladder Company 4, died while fighting a fire at the Buckeye Cotton Oil plant at Belt Line and Old Raleigh Road on . Campagna was operating a hose line on the porch of the seed house when a nearby shed collapsed, pinning him and four other firefighters under a pile of debris. He was crushed between two heavy pieces of iron and killed instantly. The plant, at the time, was located outside the city limits of Memphis. Frank Campagna was 36 years old and unmarried.

    JAMES W. DOYLE, March 23, 1925, Lieutenant assigned to Pumper No. 6, collapsed while fighting a fire at the B. Kruger Grocery Store at 717 North Second Street on . He was operating a hose line at the base of a ladder when he apparently suffered a stroke. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died. He had been with the department for 25 years. Lieutenant James W. Doyle was a widower and the father of six children.

    JOHN A. SULLIVAN, January 28, 1928, Captain assigned to Engine 9, was injured when Engine 9 was struck by a car on Madison Avenue at the alley between Second and Third Streets at 6:00 p. m. o n January 27, 1928. The company was returning to quarters after a minor chimney fire at 220 Court Street. Sullivan suffered internal injuries, along with both legs being broken. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died the following day, on January 28, 1928. He had been with the department for 31 years. Captain John Sullivan, 60, was married and the father of four children.

    OSCAR F. STELL, November 23, 1929, Captain assigned to Engine '9, died while fighting a fire at the old Chamber of Commerce building at 79-81 Monroe Avenue at 10:00 p.m. on November 23, 1929. During the blaze, Steil went to tighten a hose connection on the fire escape. He exited the smoke-filled sixth floor and fell to the ground. He had been with the department for seven years. Captain Oscar Steil was married and the father of three daughters. His death occurred on the eve of his eighth wedding anniversary, for which a large celebration had been planned. Ironically, Steil had been assigned to Engine 9 to succeed Captain Jack Sullivan, who died in the line of duty one year earlier.

    HENRY BRENNER, February 17, 1934, Ist Assistant Chief, was injured when his car collided with Pumper No. 2 at the corner of Vance Avenue and Third Street on February 16, 1934. Both vehicles were responding to an alarm at Linden and Hernando. Brenner suffered severe head injuries and five broken ribs. He was transported to Methodist Hospital, where he died the following day, on February 17, 1934. He had been with the department for 36 years. Chief Henry Brenner, 67, was married and the father of two sons.

    RALPH C. PIERCE, February 18, 1934, Private assigned to Pumper No. 2, was one of seven firefighters injured when Pumper 2 collided with the car of Assistant Chief Henry Brenner at Vance Avenue and Third Street on February 16, 1934. Pierce was riding on the back step of Pumper 2. He was thrown across the street and his skull was fractured. He was taken to Baptist Hospital, where he died on February 18, 1934. Ralph Pierce, 37, was married but had no children. He had been with the department for thirteen years.

    ROBERT H. ALEXANDER, December 2, 1934, Lieutenant assigned to the Fire Insurance Patrol, was one of three firefighters who died while fighting a fire at the Johnson Motor Company at 333-37 Monroe Avenue at 4:25 a.m. on December 2, 1934. All three men were killed when a wall collapse followed an explosion during the fire. Alexander saw the collapse begin and was warning others to run when the falling wall crushed him. He had been with the department for fourteen years. Lieutenant Robert H. Alexander, 50, was married and the father of one son.

    JAMES B. FAULKENBERRY, December 2, 1934, Patrolman assigned to the Fire Insurance Patrol, was one of three firefighters who died while fighting a fire at the Johnson Motor Company at 333-37 Monroe Avenue at 4:25 a.m. on December 2, 1934. All three men were killed when a wall collapse followed an explosion during the fire. He had been with the department for five years. James Benton Faulkenberry, 31, was married and the father of one son.

    WIX J. FOWLER, December 2, 1934, Patrolman assigned to the Fire Insurance Patrol, was one of three firefighters who died while fighting a fire at the Johnson Motor Company at 333-37 Monroe Avenue at 4:25 a.m. on December 2, 1934. All three men were killed when a wall collapse followed an explosion during the fire. He had been with the department for only a few months. Wix Fowler, 25, was married and the father of one son.

    WILLIAM C. KAVANAUGH, May 19, 1936, Private assigned to Truck 1, was injured while on duty at the Cotton Carnival Parade on May 12, 1936. He was walking beside one of the floats when a horse pulling the vehicle became unruly. He moved to control the animal and dropped his torch, which exploded, burning his face and hands. A motorcycle officer took Kavanaugh to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was treated and released. However, his condition worsened and he was readmitted to the hospital two days later. He died there on May 19, 1936. William C. Kavanaugh, 30, had been with the department for three years. He was married and the father of three children.

    CLIFFORD PERRYMAN, February 15, 1937, Private assigned to Engine 10, was one of several firefighters injured or stricken with illness while on continuous duty during the great flood that occurred in February, 1937. He contracted pneumonia while working at the flood refugee base at Porter School. He died at his home on February 15, 1937. Clifford Perryman, 28, had been with the department for one year. He was married, but had no children.

    PERRY A. GILLESPIE, February 26, 1937, Private assigned to Truck 2, was one of several firefighters injured or stricken with illness while on continuous duty during the great flood that occurred in February, 1937. He contracted pneumonia while working at the flood refugee base at the Fairgrounds on February 20th. He died at St. Joseph's Hospital on February 26, 1937. Perry A. Gillespie, 40, had been with the department for one year. He was married, but had no children.

    HERBERT JOHNSON, August 19, 1937, Driver assigned to Truck 2, fought a fire at Barrett Food Products and went off-duty shortly after the fire.  He died in his sleep later that day.  The Medical Examiner's Office ruled his cause of death as a result from the smoke and gases from the fire he fought earlier in the day.  He was married with two children.

    EARL VANDERFORD, January 17, 1942, District Chief, died when his Chief's car struck a train while responding to an alarm at 1:30 p.m. on January 17, 1942. The accident occurred at the intersection of Chelsea Avenue and Payne Street, Chief Vanderford and his aide were responding from Station 4 at 285 North Main Street to a shed fire at Shannon and Hyde Park. Railroad officials were charged in the incident with failing to have -a flagman at the crossing. Earl Vanderford, 49, had been with the department for twenty-four years and a District Chief for two years. He was married and the father of eight children.

    MILES MASON, January 17, 1942, Aide to District Chief Earl Vanderford, was injured when the Chief's car struck a train while responding to an alarm at 1:30 p.m. on January 17, 1942. The accident occurred at the intersection of Chelsea Avenue and Payne Street. They were responding from Station 4 at 285 North Main Street to a shed fire at Shannon and Hyde Park. Railroad officials were charged in the incident with failing to have a flagman at the crossing. Mason was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died about an hour after the accident. He had been with the department for three years. Miles Mason was 38 years old, married, and the stepfather of three children.

    JOHN JOSEPH GIARDINA, August 23, 1943, Captain assigned to Engine 3, suffered a stroke and died en route to St. Joseph's Hospital on August 23, 1943. His death, apparently, was the result of a freak accident that occurred the previous night, while he was fighting a fire on Avery Street. During the blaze, Giardina was caught beneath bedsprings for several minutes and inhaled the vapors from a recent fumigation in the house. He had been with the department for twenty-five years. John J. Giardina was married, but had no children. He was well known for his charitable works in the community, including helping others with more than 200 blood donations.

    OTTO R. RAHM, JR., June 30, 1950, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 10, suffered a heart attack and collapsed while fighting a fire involving three homes on Silverage Avenue near Swift Street at 5:30 p.m. on June 30, 1950. He died enroute to John Gaston Hospital. He had been with the department for twenty years. Otto Rahm, 54, was married and the father of three children.

    ROBERT W. FORTUNE, August 7, 1950, Private assigned to Engine 10, was one of several firefighters injured while fighting a fire at the Cudahy Packing Company at 23 West Calhoun Avenue at 11:21 a.m. on August 7, 1950. Firefighters were operating hose lines on a loading platform when a section of roof collapsed, trapping fifteen underneath. Fortune was pinned beneath heavy wooden timbers was not breathing when he was removed. He was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, where he died. He had been with the department for six years. Robert W. Fortune was married and the father of three children.

    GEORGE L. BRISTER, January 21, 1959, Aide to District Chief Butcher, suffered a heart attack while operating at a fire in a vacant house at 1233 Madison Avenue at 4:45 p.m. on January 21, 1959. He was transported to St. Joseph Hospital and died there about an hour later. He had been with the department for fourteen years. George L. Brister, 38, was married and the father of two sons.

    MARVIN H. SILER, February 20, 1960, Captain assigned to Rescue Squad 1, died of a heart attack as his company returned from a fire call on Beale Street at 7:25 a.m. on February 20, 1960. He slumped to the floor of the squad as it neared Station 3 at 200 Linden Avenue. Immediate efforts to save his life failed. Captain Marvin Siler, 46, had been with the department for several years. He was married and the father of one daughter.

    TAYLOR S. PICKETT, May 6, 1961, Private assigned to Engine 8, was one of several firefighters injured while fighting a fire at the Cudahy Packing Company at 23 West Calhoun Avenue at 11:21 a.m. on August 7, 1950. Firefighters were operating hose lines on a loading platform when a section of roof collapsed, trapping fifteen underneath. Pickett was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital and treated for a broken hip, leg, and ribs. His injuries forced his retirement and he died on May 6, 1961. Taylor S. Pickett was married and the father of ten children.

    MICHAEL W. O'NEILL, July 25, 1962, Lieutenant assigned to Rescue Squad 1, was one of several firefighters injured at the DuVall Transfer and Deliver Service at 3 Talbot Avenue on November 14, 1954. Firefighters responded to three explosions in trucks parked at the rear of the building. As they worked to extinguish those blazes, a fourth and more powerful explosion occurred inside the building, injuring a number of firefighters and civilians. O'Neill was transported to St. Joseph Hospital and treated for cuts, bruises, and internal injuries. He was unable to return to duty until January of 1960. The lingering effects of his injuries continued, however, and he died on July 25, 1962. Lieutenant Mike O'Neill, 44, was married and the father of three children.

    DANIEL H. DOOLEY, JR., October 13, 1962, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 8, was one of three firefighters overcome by smoke while fighting a fire in a vacant house at 443 Simpson Avenue at 1:00 p.m. on October 13, 1962. He was found unconscious in a front room of the house and taken to Methodist Hospital, where he died. Lt. Dan Dooley, 33, had been with the department for nine years. He was married and the father of five children.

    ROGER W. FITCH, March 21, 1965, Private assigned to Engine 7, died of smoke inhalation while fighting a fire at the Owen Graham Salvage and Sundry Store at 1333 Madison Avenue at 10:03 a.m. on March 21, 1965. Five other firefighters were overcome by smoke and transported to area hospitals. Roger Fitch, 35, had been with the department for ten years. He was married and the father of one daughter.

    CHARLES P. BOLTON, December 31, 1969, Captain assigned to Engine 24, suffered a heart attack while operating at a fire in an occupied dwelling at 178 South Grove Park Road at 7:35 p.m. on December 31, 1969. He was transported to Methodist Hospital, where he died about thirty minutes later. Captain Charles Bolton, 47, had been with the department for eighteen years. He was married and the father of three children.

    VERNON L. KNIGHT, March 16, 1975, Private assigned to Engine 38, was killed when he was thrown from the tallboard of the apparatus on Neely Road at Parkdale Drive at 3:23 p.m. on March 16, 1975. The company was responding to a reported fire at 1137 Whitaker Drive. The report turned out to be steam coming from a rooftop, Vernon L. Knight, 35, was married and the father of two children.

    MARTINIANO R. LERMA, October 15, 1977, Private assigned to Fire Squad 1, died while fighting a fire in the vacant Astro Shanta Lounge at 1027 South Third Street at 12:30 a.m. on October 15, 1977. The squad company was operating a hand line near the front entrance of the building when a rapid buildup of heat and smoke forced their retreat. During this retreat, Lerma apparently became disoriented and was trapped in a nearby room, where he died. Four other firefighters were injured. Martiniano R. Lerma, 42, had been with the department for nine years. He was married and the father of five children.

    HENRY A. RUTLEDGE, November 27, 1977, Private assigned to Engine 47, died when Engine 47 overturned at Coleman Road and Raleigh-LaGrange Road at 10:46 a.m. on November 27, 1977. The company was responding to a fire in the Woodhaven Apartments at 2569 Holly Hedges Drive. Rutledge, who was driving, was trapped inside the cab after the engine skidded off the rain-slick street and overturned at the edge of a drainage ditch. He was killed instantly. Three other firefighters were injured. Henry Rutledge, 31, had been with the department for five years. He was married and the father of one son.

    DONALD W. KING, August 25, 1980, Private assigned to Engine 7, collapsed with smoke inhalation while fighting a fire at the Owen Graham Salvage and Sundry Store at 1333 Madison Avenue at 10:03 a.m. on March 21, 1965. Five other firefighters were injured. King was transported to Baptist Hospital. He remained in a coma for over fifteen years and died at the Bright Glade Convalescent Center on August 25, 1980. At the time he was injured, King was 27 years old and had been with the department for four years. He was 42 years old at the time of his death. Donald W. King was married, but had no children.

    CHARLES H. VINSON, December 19. 1982, Private assigned to Engine 34, collapsed with an apparent heart attack while fighting a fire at the Slaughter Brothers Lumber Company at 4341 Old Lamar Avenue at 9:55 p.m. on December 19. 1982. The engine company had been working at the fire scene for more than six hours. Charles Vinson, 41, had been with the department for five years. He was married and the father of two children.

    JIMMY R. KENNEDY, February 15, 1984, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 17, collapsed with an apparent heart attack while fighting a fire at Quon's Supermarket at 1470 Wells Station Road shortly before 1:00 a.m. on February 15, 1984. He was transported to Baptist Hospital East, where he died, Kennedy, 43. had been with the department for fifteen years, He was married and the father of one son.

    MILTON A. DENSFORD, June 26, 1984, Paramedic assigned to Emergency Unit 8, but detailed to Emergency Unit 4, was killed when Unit 4 was involved in a traffic accident at Poplar Avenue and East Parkway North at 12:01 p.m. on June 26, 1984. The unit was responding to a patient with difficulty breathing at 737 Buntyn Street. Milton Densford, 41, was the first MFD Paramedic to die in the line of duty. He had been with the department for seventeen years. He was married and the father of three daughters.

    BOBBY G. BLACKLEY, February 25, 1987, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 2, was one of three firefighters seriously injured when a wall collapsed during a fire at the Design-Spec Seating Company at 338 Hernando Street at 5:27 a.m. on February 25, 1987. He was transported to the Regional Medical Center where he died. The deliberately set fire began in a nearby vacant house and spread to the seating company. Lt. Bobby Blackley, 47, had been with the department for twenty-five years. He was married and the father of five children.

    JAMES D. HILL, January 4, 1993, Private assigned to Engine 31, was one of two firefighters critically injured when the roof collapsed during a fire at the Pilgrims Hope Baptist Church at 3084 Woodrow Street at 1:58 p.m. on December 26, 1992. He was trapped beneath debris and severely burned. He was transported to the Burn unit at the Regional Medical Center, where he died on January 4, 1993. J. D. Hill, 45, had been with the department for 22 years. He was the father of two children.

    JOSEPH A. BOSWELL, January 11, 1993, Private assigned to Engine 26, was one of two firefighters critically injured when the roof collapsed during a fire at the Pilgrims Hope Baptist Church at 3084 Woodrow Street at 1:58 p.m. on December 26, 1992. He was trapped beneath debris and severely burned. He was transported to the Burn unit at the Regional Medical Center, where he died on January 11, 1993. Anthony Boswell, 32, had been with the department for eight years. He was the father of five children.

    WILLIAM E. BRIDGES, April 11, 1994, Private assigned to Engine 7, was one of two firefighters who died while fighting an arson fire at the Regis Towers Apartments at 750 Adams Avenue at 2:10 a.m. on April 11, 1994. Bridges, while searching for a fellow firefighter, became entangled in fallen wiring in a ninth floor hallway and was trapped. He was later found unconscious and transported to the Regional Medical Center, where he died. Billy Bridges, 27, had been with the department for four years. He was married and the father of two children.

    MICHAEL L. MATHIS, April 11, 1994, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 7, was one of two firefighters who died while fighting an arson fire at the Regis Towers Apartments at 750 Adams Avenue at 2:10 a.m. on April 11, 1994. Mathis, while searching for fellow firefighters, was apparently caught in a flashover that damaged his breathing apparatus. He was found unconscious in a ninth floor apartment and transported to the Regional Medical Center where he died. Larry Mathis, 38, had been with the department for seventeen years. He was married and the father of two daughters.

    JAVIER LERMA, March 08 2000, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 55, was one of two firefighters and a Sheriff's Deputy, who died of gunshot wounds received after arriving on the scene of a house fire, at 4217 Germantown Road.

    WILLIAM BLAKEMORE, March 08, 2000,  Private assigned to Engine 39, was one of two firefighters and a Sheriff's Deputy, who died of gunshot wounds received after arriving on the scene of a house fire, at 4217 Germantown Road.

    TRENT KIRK, June 15, 2003, Lieutenant assigned to Truck 9, was one of two firefighters who died while fighting an arson fire at the Family Dollar store at 3732 N. Watkins in Frayser.

    CHARLES ZACHARY, June 15, 2003, Private assigned to Engine 31, was one of two firefighters who died while fighting an arson fire at the Family Dollar store at 3732 N. Watkins in Frayser.

    DAVID O'CONNER, April 20, 2005, Driver assigned to Engine 7, was responding to a fire alarm and suffered  a cerebral aneurysm which resulted in his death.

    WENDELL A. JEFFERY, October 24, 2005, Lieutenant assigned to Engine 19, suffered a heart attack while at the station, which resulted in his death.  He was survived by a wife and five children.

    RODNEY EDDINS, April 16, 2016, Lieutenant Rodney Eddins, assigned to Quint 37, suffered a heart attack while on the scene of a house fire at 4513 Marigold Lane.  He was transported to a local hospital by MFD personnel where he was pronounced dead.  Lieutenant Eddins was a 30 year veteran of the Memphis Fire Department and is survived by a wife and adult child.




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