Illinois Fire Service Institute


Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Thomas McKnight
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Firefighter
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 51 to 55
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 8/23/1963
Cause of Death Struck by object
Nature of Death Trauma , Asphyxiation
Attribute of Death Equipment failure , Drowning
Type of Duty Hose operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 8/23/1963
Incident Location Water/Waterfront
Incident Attribute Boating/Diving accidents

Incident Summary

On August 23, 1963, Chicago Fire Department Firefighter Thomas McKnight of Engine 37 drowned while serving on the fire boat Joseph Medill. McKnight was knocked overboard while he and other firefighters were spraying streams of colored water into the air during a lakefront parade celebrating Venetian Night. Other crewmembers were unsure of how McKnight ended up in the water, but investigations suggested that he was knocked unconscious by a broken hose connection.


“Crew Member of a Fireboat Falls, Drowns,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 2, 1963.

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