Bill Friedrich submitted a link to the Illinois Fire Service Institute Firefighter Record, which outlines the events and reporting of an incident that resulted in the death of three Naperville firefighters on December 7, 1970 as the result of a collision between the engine that they were riding in and a semi-trailer while en-route to a house fire.


On December 7, 1970, the Naperville Fire Department received an alarm at 7:55AM for a house fire west of the city. Firefighters immediately responded, but a fire truck carrying five firefighters collided with a semi-trailer truck at the intersection of Illinois Routes 59 and 65. Several fatal car accidents had occurred at the intersection during the preceding years and traffic lights had been installed at the intersection only two weeks prior to the accident.

Lieutenant Richard Rechenmacher, Engineer Jerry Herring, and Firefighter Bernard Petrowski, who were riding in the cab of the fire truck, were all thrown from the vehicle by the collision and killed instantly. Firefighter Mike Hill, who was also riding in the truck’s cab, was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but Firefighter James Heinke, who was riding on the tailboard of the fire truck, escaped injury. Mutual aid responders from the Moecherville Fire Department responded to the house fire, and the Downers Grove Fire Department sent firefighters and fire apparatus to Naperville to assist with fire calls.

The report includes radio logs, the original accident report and photographs from the scene.

Naperville Fire Department fatal accident scene December 7, 1970

A photo from the accident scene showing the crushed cab of the Naperville Mack-C engine and the overturned semi in the rear. Photo ©Naperville Fire Department

Naperville Fire Department 1967 Mack C95 engine

Delivery photo supplied by Bill Friedrich of the 1967 Mack C95F engine.