Illinois Fire Service Institute


Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name David Donnelly
Agency Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol
Rank Assistant Captain
Type of Firefighter Fire Patrol
Age Range 31 to 35
Sex Male
Date of Birth 0/0/1841
Date of Death 6/22/1872
Cause of Death Contact/Exposure
Nature of Death Asphyxiation , Burns
Attribute of Death Smoke inhalation
Type of Duty Firefighting operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Chicago
Incident State IL
Incident Date 6/22/1872
Incident Location [Unknown]
Incident Attribute Explosions , Fires , Gas leaks

Incident Summary

On June 22, 1872, Assistant Captain David F. Donnelly and Firefighter John Patterson of the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol died in the line of duty while fighting a fire in a four-story, brick building at 12 South Water Street. Donnelly and Patterson asphyxiated and suffered severe burns when a gas meter inside the building exploded.

Members of the Chicago Fire Insurance Patrol were the first firefighters on scene, and Donnelly led three other firefighters, including Patterson, into the building with fire extinguishers. The gas meter exploded shortly thereafter, killing Donnelly and Patterson, and injuring three other firefighters.

Funeral services for the firefighters were held on June 24. Donnelly’s body was sent by train to Philadelphia for burial, and Patterson’s remains were sent to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where he was buried next to his mother.


“The Water Street Calamity,” Chicago Tribune, June 23, 1872.

“Funeral Obsequies,” Chicago Tribune, June 25, 1872.

“The Fireman's Funeral,” The Inter Ocean, June 25, 1872.

Firefighter and Incident Images

No images exist for this Firefighter/Incident

Firefighter and Incident Audio

No Audio for this Firefighter/Incident record


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