Posts Tagged Palatine Fire Department history

Palatine Fire Department news

Palatine Ben Franklin store fire memorial

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New home for Illinois apparatus (part 3) – Indiana

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Palatine Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The Palatine Fire Department will host a brief ceremony Sunday morning to recognize the service and sacrifice of three Palatine volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty fighting a fire 47 years earlier.

On Feb. 23, 1973, volunteer firefighters John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim lost their lives fighting a fire in the Ben Franklin store in downtown Palatine. The early morning fire started in the basement of the store and quickly spread throughout the building. Wilson, Freeman, and Ahlgrim were on the first hose line and died while fighting the fire in the basement of the store.

The memorial ceremony will be held at the Palatine Firefighter’s Memorial at the corner of North Brockway and West Slade streets in the village’s downtown. The Palatine Fire Honor Guard will step off from Station 85 at 39 E. Colfax at about 8:45 a.m. and march to the memorial. The ceremony will begin at about 9 a.m. and include a wreath presentation and ringing of the ceremonial fire bell honoring the three firefighters that paid the ultimate sacrifice 47 years ago.

The ceremony is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.

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Palatine Fire Department news

Palatine Fire Department Memorial Service

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Palatine Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

As fire raged through the Ben Franklin store in Palatine on Feb. 23, 1973, volunteer firefighter George Palmer, an engineer on the Snorkel, raised the bucket to get firefighters to the roof.

That 50-year-old firetruck, emblazoned with the names of the three firefighters who died in that blaze, was on hand Saturday as a crowd of more than 50 people and a dozen firefighters in full dress blue uniforms bid goodbye to Palmer during a memorial service in front of the historic Palatine Deluge Fire Co. Museum on the grounds of the Palatine Historical Society.

Palmer, who had heart issues and died Sept. 4 at age 85 in his home in Florida, rode on the Snorkel during the 2016 Palatine Fourth of July Parade.

Palmer was part of one the first paramedic programs in the nation, said retired Palatine Fire Lt. Bill Noland Jr., 74, who also was in that program. In addition to honing medical skills every Sunday for two months, the paramedics also received another 120 hours in training on Tuesday and Thursday nights, Noland said.

Noland was on the roof of the Ben Franklin store with other firefighters when the decision was made to get off because it was too dangerous. The store was owned by John Wilson, a volunteer firefighter who died alongside Warren “Auggie” Ahlgrim, and Richard Freeman when they ran out of air in the basement of the building.

thanks Dan

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Palatine Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Palatine is preparing to say farewell to a longtime resident and volunteer firefighter who was on hand in 1973 when three of his colleagues died on a call at a downtown store.

With an old fire truck planned as a backdrop, a memorial service for George Palmer Jr. will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, on the grounds of the George H. Clayson House Museum and Library, 224 E. Palatine Road. The truck, driven to the Ben Franklin store tragedy, was part of this year’s Palatine Fourth of July parade.

Palmer, 85, was living in Haines City, Florida, when he died suddenly Sept. 4, 2016. He died a day after sinking a 52-foot par putt on the ninth hole of his home golf course, believed to be one his greatest moments on the links.

He was known throughout Palatine as the owner of Palmer Plumbing and for his service as a volunteer firefighter. 

Palmer was with the crew that responded to the Ben Franklin store fire in downtown Palatine on Feb. 23, 1973. Volunteer firefighters John Wilson, who owned the shop, Warren “Auggie” Ahlgrim and Richard Freeman died of carbon monoxide inhalation while battling the blaze.

“Everyone wanted to save Johnny’s store, and nobody realized what kind of danger they were in,” Palmer told the Daily Herald in 2013. “They were good at eating smoke, but had they not had their air packs, they probably would have come out sooner. It was the brave thing to do. But in retrospect, they shouldn’t have gone in.”

Retired Palatine firefighter Bill Noland Jr. said he’ll be in his dress blue uniform for Palmer’s memorial service. Noland worked with Palmer and was one of the volunteer firefighters at the Ben Franklin blaze.

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Palatine Fire Department history

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters. John Tobin photo

John Tobin photo

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters. John Tobin photo

John Tobin photo

Excerpts from

When fire broke out at the Ben Franklin five-and-dime store on Feb. 23, 1973, John Tobin was a high school senior who lived about a mile from downtown Palatine.

It was early that morning and his father, Dave, then a second lieutenant with the village’s volunteer fire department, had already left for the scene. So had the assistant chief, who lived across the street. Tobin felt he had no choice but to ditch school. He started running toward the fire. Towering over the fire was Palatine’s 1969, [75-foot Snorkel].

But nothing had prepared him for what he saw that morning. Staring at the scene in shock, Tobin heard one firefighter say three others were trapped in the basement.

In his rush to get to the fire, Tobin had forgotten his camera. He ran home to get it and when he got back to downtown Palatine he saw his father working on the fire outside and knew he was safe.

“It wasn’t until hours later we found out who was in there,” Tobin said. Three firefighters were killed — Warren Ahlgrim, Richard Freeman and John Wilson — after they were trapped in the basement filled with carbon monoxide.

The fire was 43 years ago, and Tobin has never forgotten the emotions of that day and how it changed him.

All these years he could never get the image of [the Snorkel] out of his mind.

Tracking it down became something like an obsession for him. He heard it had been sold to downstate Salem, Illinois, in 1981. In 2003 he stopped in Salem overnight while driving home from a convention. But by then Salem had sold the truck to Pierceton, Indiana. So he paid a visit.

Earlier this year, Pierceton officials were ready to sell the old truck. They called Tobin, who told them the best he could offer was $5,000. They accepted.

“This is my childhood idol of a truck,” Tobin said.

For the past few days Tobin has been hard at work at the Bartlett Fire Department, where the truck is being housed while he buffs the paint, fixes the lights and creates a tribute to Ahlgrim, Freeman, and Wilson.

“It brings back old memories and it honors those firefighters that were killed that day,” Tobin says.

On Tuesday the restored truck was in downtown Palatine, exactly where it had been 43 years ago, as Palatine held its annual memorial service at the Firefighters Memorial at Brockway and Slade streets.
After the memorial service, Tobin plans to keep the truck in a barn on his property in West Dundee.

thanks Dan

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters.

The Ben Franklin store fire killed three Palatine firefighters. John Tobin photo

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