Illinois Fire Service Institute


Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name James Tobin
Agency Chicago Fire Department
Rank Pilot
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 46 to 50
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/0
Date of Death 12/15/1900
Cause of Death Caught/Trapped
Nature of Death Asphyxiation
Attribute of Death Drowning
Type of Duty Firehouse duties

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 12/15/1900 18:0
Incident Location Water/Waterfront
Incident Attribute Boating/Diving accidents

Incident Summary

On December 15, 1900, Chicago Fire Department Pilot James Tobin of Engine 41 died in the line of duty when he slipped off a dock and drowned in the Chicago River.

Tobin left the Engine 41 firehouse on Throop Street at 6PM to report for duty on the fireboat Geyser. When the boat’s captain called for a change of watch at midnight, firefighters realized Tobin was missing. After finding Tobin’s cap near the boat’s bow, firefighters dragged the river with boat hooks and recovered Tobin’s body.

A member of the department for fifteen years, Tobin was also a veteran of the Civil War.


“Fireman James Tobin Drowns,” Chicago Daily Tribune, December 17, 1900.

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