Illinois Fire Service Institute


Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Oscar Peterson
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Lieutenant
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range [Unknown]
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 1/12/1919
Cause of Death Caught/Trapped , Contact/Exposure
Nature of Death Asphyxiation
Attribute of Death Drowning
Type of Duty Firefighting operations , Hose operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 1/12/1919
Incident Location Store/Office
Incident Attribute Basement fires , Fires , Gas leaks

Incident Summary

On January 12, 1919, Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Oscar W. Peterson of Engine 114 died in the line of duty while fighting a basement fire in a commercial building on Fullerton Avenue. The fire started when a furnace pipe overheated. Subsequently, the heat from the fire melted a water pipe and a gas main. Despite the rising water and the release of gas fumes, Peterson led four firefighters into the basement in an effort to extinguish the fire. The firefighters attempted to exit the basement once the water reached their shoulders, but they were disoriented by the gas fumes. Firefighters from Squad 2 were able to pull four of the firefighters out of the basement before they lost consciousness, but Peterson passed out and slipped under the water. Squad 2 moved quickly to rescue him, but he was dead by the time they recovered his body.


“Gas and Water Kill 1 Fireman; Injure 4 More,” Chicago Daily Tribune, January 13, 1919.

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