|Agency||Peoria Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||31 to 35|
|Date of Birth||10/2/1878|
|Date of Death||9/21/1910|
|Cause of Death||Struck by vehicle|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Responding to/returning from incident|
Fireman Clifford B. “Bert” Wyles, 32, was killed in the line of duty at the Holly Hose House fire station, located at the corner of Sanford Street and Prairie Alley (presently Aiken Avenue). He was crushed under the rear wheel of the aerial truck on which he was a crew member.
At 1:35 a.m., Tuesday, September 21, 1910, an alarm was transmitted to the Holly Hose House, signaling a fire at Proctor Hospital. Placing great urgency on alarms originating from a medical facility, the crew lost no time in responding to the call. As the aerial truck moved through the doorway, Wyles climbed onto the running board while simultaneously throwing his turnout coat onto the machine. This action, as simple as it was, cost him his life. The doorway was so narrow that there was barely room for the large truck to pass through. As he reached for his coat, Wyles struck the door frame and was knocked under the rear wheels.
Patrick Malone, who was at the rear tilling position of the apparatus, witnessed the entire scene and threw all of his weight onto the steering mechanism to turn the machine away from his friend’s body. His efforts were in vain, however, and the six-ton truck crushed the young man into the cobblestone of the Holly Hose House. Although Malone was almost certain that his friend had been killed, he had no way to communicate what had happened to the driver and captain seated in the front, and the huge truck continued onward to the alarm. As soon as the truck wheeled in front of Proctor Hospital, Malone jumped from the rig and told a policeman at the scene what had happened to Wyles. An ambulance wagon was immediately dispatched to transport Wyles to the hospital, but he died while being carried into the emergency room at Proctor Hospital.
Sadly, the fire call that cost Wyles his life turned out to be a minor one. An electrical fuse in the basement had caused a small amount of smoke to ascend the elevator shaft and permeate the upper halls. An employee had already successfully contained the smoke and fire by closing the doors to the affected corridor.
Funeral services were held for fireman Clifford B “Bert” Wyles on Friday, Sept. 23, 1910. Peoria firefighters paid their respects in the funeral procession. Behind a long line of friends and family, they drove several fire machines draped in black. During his short five months of service, Wyles had proved himself an efficient and brave firefighter who was well-liked by his associates.
Summary by Marty Baker and Doug Brignall, Peoria Fire Department