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Record #: Or2013-114   
Type: Order Status: Failed to Pass
Intro date: 3/13/2013 Current Controlling Legislative Body: Committee on Public Safety
Final action: 5/20/2015
Title: Call for Commissioner of Chicago Fire Department to recognize duty-related deaths of Firefighters Thomas F. Garry and Robert J. Klasek
Sponsors: Burke, Edward M.
Attachments: 1. Or2013-114.pdf
Related files: R2015-407
Public Safety
WHEREAS, at 4:14 p.m. on May 19, 1934, Engine Company 59 responded to a fire at the Union Stock Yards on Chicago's south side; and
WHEREAS, when Engine 59 arrived on the scene, the blaze was so substantial that the firefighters abandoned their engine as it was being destroyed by flames; and
WHEREAS, after 14 alarms had sounded, 103 companies comprised of 103 pumpers and 22 trucks arrived to battle the persistent flames; and
WHEREAS, approximately 2,200 Chicago and suburban firefighters reported to battle the fire, deploying nearly five-sixths of the Chicago Fire Department's equipment; and
WHEREAS, during the fire, Company 59's quarters were destroyed and those firefighters were commanded to report to Company 39 (1618 West 33rd Street); and
WHEREAS, through the heroic efforts of the firefighters, approximately four hours after the initial alarm had sounded, the flames that once covered an estimated eight city blocks were reduced to almost nothing; and
WHEREAS, nearly 150 families became homeless as the result of the fire; and
WHEREAS, at one point during the battle, the fire became so large that passengers on a United Airlines plane flying over South Bend, Indiana, located 95 miles away from Chicago, noticed the clouds of smoke covering the city; and
WHEREAS, during the fire, firefighters became extremely dehydrated and overheated; and
WHEREAS, the firefighters began to drink polluted water from a 2,000,000 gallon reservoir that was not normally used for drinking; and
WHEREAS, seventy firefighters would become very ill, many of whom contracted typhoid fever; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Thomas F. Garry fought the Union Stock Yards fire as a member of Engine 88; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Garry entered the Chicago Fire Department on November 19, 1917;and
WHEREAS, firefighter Garry died from typhoid on October 25, 1934 at the age of 45, five months after drinking the polluted water at the Stock Yards; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Garry was widowed at the time of his death and left behind five children; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Garry's grandson is James T. Joyce, who served as the Commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department from 1999 until his retirement in 2004, following 34 years of service to the residents of Chicago as a member of the Chicago Fire Department; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Robert J. Klasek fought the Union Stock Yards fire as a member of Truck 8; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Klasek entered the Chicago Fire Department on April 27, 1928; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Klasek died from typhoid on December 6, 1934, seven months after drinking the polluted water at the Stock Yards; and
WHEREAS, firefighter Garry and Firefighter Klasek are not included among the 558 members of the Chicago Fire Department who made the ultimate sacrifice; NOW THEREFORE
Alderman, 14th Ward
That the Commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department is hereby ordered to recognize the deaths of Firefighter Thomas F. Garry and Firefighter Robert J. Klasek as line of duty deaths attributed to their service in combating the Union Stock Yards Fire of May 19, 1934 and to honor their sacrifices with all appropriate tributes and commemorations.