|Agency||Waukegan Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||41 to 45|
|Date of Birth||8/23/1940|
|Date of Death||12/29/1985|
|Cause of Death||Fall|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations , Hose operations|
On December 29, 1985, Lieutenant Franklin Mercer of the Waukegan Fire Department died in the line of duty while fighting a residential fire.
Firefighters responded to the fire shortly before 1AM, and found a large volume of flame inside the two-and-a-half story building. As two firefighters lead an attack line into the house and moved through the first floor, Mercer advanced up to the second story. The building structure was weakened by the fire, however, and Mercer fell through the floor. Injured, and apparently trapped by flames, Mercer jumped out a first floor window, where he was found by fellow firefighters. Paramedics on scene began treating Mercer immediately, and he was transported to Victory Memorial Hospital, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 2:05AM, having suffered multiple spinal fractures. Two other firefighters suffered injuries while fighting the fire, which was started by a faulty furnace that had smoldered for hours.
Funeral services for Mercer were held at the Marsh Funeral Home on December 31, and he was buried at North Shore Garden of Memories Cemetery in North Chicago. More than sixty fire and police departments attended the funeral services.
Mercer joined the Waukegan Fire Department in March 1970, having previously worked as a firefighter at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. He was promoted to sergeant in June 1978 and to lieutenant in November 1980. Within the department, Mercer served as a Fire Boat Commander, an Apparatus Officer, and an Emergency Medical Technician.
Tom Osran, “Veteran fireman killed on duty,” News-Sun [Lake County, Ill.], December 30, 1985.
William Recktenwald, “Waukegan fireman killed,” Chicago Tribune, December 30, 1985.
John M. Schmidt, “Waukegan Firemen Mourn Brother,” Illinois Fire Fighter, Spring 1986.