The Daily Herald has an article about a memorial held for firefighters who perished in 1974.

Eight Elgin firefighters are listed on a wall at Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum that honors those who died of injuries suffered on duty. Two had heart attacks; one injured a leg and died of the resulting infection; one died of a concussion; one was crushed under the wheels of a fire truck; and one died of a shotgun injury.

Saturday, firefighters remembered the two who lost their lives 40 years ago this summer, trying to save a teenager from drowning in the boil under the Kimball Street dam on the Fox River. Two teens had, on a dare, ridden a raft over the dam on the flood-swollen river. They capsized in the hydraulic roller, or boil, below the dam. One was thrown free; the other was stuck.

To his rescue came Station 2 Pipeman Michael Whalen and his captain, Stanley Balsis, said current Fire Chief John Fahy.

“They did what they are supposed to do. They got their boat in the water and they were the ready to go,” Fahy said of Balsis and Whalen.

Both were killed when their rescue boat capsized. Whalen died almost immediately when their boat slammed against the concrete wall of the dam.

Balsis held on to the capsized boat for 45 minutes, with a broken arm and a separated shoulder, battered by the roil. Efforts to save him proved fruitless, as he could not hang on to flotation devices firefighters threw to him to pull him out. The raging waters took him.

Both teenagers survived the tragedy.

Besides remembering three Illinois firefighters who died on the job in the past year, the representatives also detailed former members of their departments who have died in the last year.

“Once you are a firefighter, you are always a firefighter. It’s what you do. It’s what you wanted to do. It’s how you lived your lives,” Fahy said.

thanks Dan

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