Illinois Fire Service Institute


Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name James Russell
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Pipeman
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range [Unknown]
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 9/27/1894
Cause of Death Contact/Exposure
Nature of Death Asphyxiation
Attribute of Death Smoke inhalation
Type of Duty Firefighting operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 9/27/1894
Incident Location Public assembly
Incident Attribute Basement fires , Fires

Incident Summary

On September 27, 1894, Chicago Fire Department Pipeman James Russell of Engine 10 died in the line of duty while fighting a restaurant fire on S. State Street. Russell asphyxiated after he was overcome by smoke in the restaurant basement.

Engine 10 was the first fire company to arrive on scene, and firefighters immediately entered the building with a hose line. They advanced ten feet into the basement before the dense smoke forced them to retreat. As they were exiting, Russell was overcome by smoke and collapsed, but he was quickly rescued by his colleagues. A few minutes later, firefighters again attempted to attack the fire with a hose line, but five more firefighters were overcome by smoke and had to be carried out of the basement. A 4-11 alarm was eventually raised, and the fire department successfully contained and extinguished the fire.

Russell was taken to a nearby drug store, where a doctor attempted to resuscitate him for more than two hours, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was survived by his widow and eight children.


“Fireman dies in a small blaze,” Chicago Daily Tribune, September 28, 1894.

Firefighter and Incident Images

Firefighter and Incident Audio

No Audio for this Firefighter/Incident record


11 Gerty Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820
Driving Directions
Contact Us
Phone: (217) 333-3800
            (800) 437-5819
Fax: (217) 244-6790
Phone: (217) 333-8925
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Social Media

You are encouraged to use this site for individual educational purposes only; however copy and/or reprinting of any materials and photographs without authorization is strictly prohibited. Please obtain permission by contacting

© 2021 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois