Steel Men and Wooden Ladders
The La Grange Fire Department has suffered the loss of three men in the line of duty. It was in doing research for this book I uncovered the very first LODD, FF. George Kezer, in 1902. This loss was unknown and unrecorded in the department history.
FF. Kezer died on July 7, 1902, after returning from a fire run. The death certificate for FF. Kezer lists his occupation as "Fireman" and his cause of death as "Heat exhaustion following a run to a fire." At the time the fire department's apparatus was pulled by the men.
FF. George Werdel
FF. Walter Busch
Last Alarm - August 30, 1925
Photo, taken July 4, 1902, is the only know image of FF. Kezer (circled) taken in front of the (then) Township Hall.
La Grange Area Historical Society Collection
The 1925 pumper loaned to the department by American LaFrance along with the memorial wreaths for the fallen firefighters.
LGFD Archives Photo
LGFD archives photo of the wrecked 1922 American LaFrance pumper after being struck by a train.
Department records show that at 12:31 a.m. on August 30th, the Department responded to a fire at Gilbert and Hillgrove. The fire, in an unoccupied single story building was extinguished with the chemical apparatus. The department records contain several images of the destroyed firetruck; on the back of two photos is written: “La Grange Fire dept. Pumper Truck - Hit at Ashland Ave. crossing 12:35 p.m. August 29, 1925. Swanson - Powell’s injured, Geo Werdell - Walter Bush killed.” The article in the Citizen stated that the irony was that the fire to which they were responding was actually at a small real estate office in Western Springs, and had the entire small building been lost the loss would have been minor compared to the loss of the fire truck – and the two lives.
Line of Duty Deaths.
FF. George Kezer
Last Alarm - July 7, 1902