Since its founding in 1854, seventeen San José Fire Fighters have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their community. Each of these have been designated as Line-of-Duty Deaths.They are recognized by San Jose Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 230, the San José Fire Department, the City of San José, the State of California, California Professional Fire Fighters, and the International Association of Fire Fighters.
July 10th, 2015
Rick was a true Renaissance man who marveled at the entire world from the sky to the deep blue sea. His love of airplanes was inherited from his father Francis Wardall, who worked for Lockheed. He was involved in the engineering of the famed P-38 fighter plane during WWII. Rick's love of planes transferred to the fire department where he worked as an engineer at Station 20 located at SJIA. He always amazed the crew by knowing the type of aircraft just by the sound of its engine.
Rick loved being a firefighter. He moved through many ranks and job descriptions including firefighter, paramedic, engineer and captain. He was known for how much he cared about helping people, his sense of humor, incredible smile, and amazing engineering and problem-solving skills.
August 10, 2012
Captain Martinez began his fire career in 1997 at the age of 26 with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in the Fresno County Ranger Unit. He continued to work for CDF until he joined the San José Fire Department in September 2001. Jose worked as a firefighter from 2001- 2004, was promoted to Fire Engineer in 2004, and promoted again to Fire Captain in June 2011. Jose wore badge number 633 with distinction as he served his San José career at Engines 5, 26, 35, and finally at Engine 12.
Captain Jose Martinez passed after a courageous but extremely short fight with a rare and aggressive work-related cancer. He was only 41. His is survived by his wife Melissa, 8-year old son Jonah Miguel and twin 3-week old girls Sofia Maria and Olivia Eleanor.
November 27, 2010
A veteran of the Santa Clara County & San Jose Firé Department, Jack Salois was adored by all who knew him. A loving husband, father of four, grandfather of 11 and great-grandfather of 2, Jack was at his happiest when he was at home in the Villages looking out at the golf course with his family at his side. Jack served in the fire service for 36 years before retiring upon being diagnosed with job-related cancer, an illness to which he would later succumb.
February 10, 2010
Felix Medrano’s career began with service to his country as a paramedic for the United States Air Force. After honorably discharged, Felix began working for the San José Fire Department, where he served for more than 28 years. Leading by example both on calls and in the firehouse, Felix was the type of firefighter that was a role model for others. During his service, Felix earned a commendation for his dedication to the USAR program as well as the John A. McMillan Family Integrity and Trust Award. Outside of work, Felix enjoyed martial arts, sports, music and literature. In 2010 Felix succumbed to the effects of job-related cancer.
May 25, 2006
Like so many who have answered the call, being a firefighter was what Ed McClanahan was all about. A generous man of great conviction, Ed was a teacher, whether it was sharing his experience and know-how to firefighters on the job to regaling his doctor on the finer points of Roman history. For those who knew him, though, Ed was most knowledgeable about the business of living in general – wisdom he passed on to his proudest legacy: his son, Air Force Master Sergeant Edward McClanahan
Fire Fighter Ed McClanahan died of work-related lung cancer, as a member of Engine Company 26 out of Station 26.
May 4, 2005
Michael Jonasson was a “Jack of all Trades” – firefighter, carpenter, cook. But his life-long passion was teaching. Before the fire service, Michael studied vocational education and spent much of his early career as a training officer. He worked on the hazardous incident team, but left because he wanted to get back on the front lines. There, he continued his role as mentor, leaving his mark on future generations until his death from job-related cancer (leukemia) in 2005.
May 31, 2002
Having served the San José Fire Department for over 20 years, Timothy Strysko truly dedicated himself to the profession. His career in the fire service allowed him to serve in many positions – Timothy began as a firefighter, a member of the Hazardous Incident Team, and was eventually promoted to the rank of Captain at the age of 36. After valiantly fighting the illness, he lost the battle to job-related colon cancer at the age of 42. He is survived by his wife Maria and his two daughters, Samantha and Alyssa.
March 17, 1981
Captain Robert Sparks was a 25-year veteran with the San José Fire Department. Halfway through the shift on Engine 28, Captain Sparks suffered a severe heart attack. Members of his company performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation trying to revive him and rushed to the hospital with Captain Sparks in the back of Pick Up 28. Despite the crew’s gallant efforts, he passed away.
February 21, 1981
The crew of Engine 8 had just administered first aid to a man trapped in an automobile at about 2:30 am. Engine 8 was returning to the firehouse at 17th and Santa Clara with Fire Engineer William Anger at the wheel. As they crossed the intersection at 13th Street and Julian Street (five blocks from the station) a car, estimated by police as traveling at about 70 miles per hour, ran a blinking red light and smashed into the side of Engine 8.
The tremendous impact caused the 30,000-lbs. engine to spin around and slam into a light pole. Fire Engineer William Anger was thrown from the engine and killed instantly. The other three members of the crew sustained moderate to serious injuries, two firefighters were pinned against the light pole and the tailboard of Engine 8 and the captain suffered injuries inside the cab. Although injured, physically and emotionally distraught the firefighters from Engine 8 valiantly extricated themselves and performed medical treatment on Fire Engineer William Anger and the occupants of the other vehicle.
October 13, 1963
Fireman Carrera, four years in the department, served on Engine Co. No. 10. He was taking part in hose evolutions during a company drill. In a freak accident, the end of a hose line whipped up to strike him in the forehead. He died that evening in O’Connor Hospital, leaving a widow and five children. Born in 1932, he was only 31 at the time.
The City Council took special action and awarded full death benefits to Carrera’s family.
Starr Hilton had planned to join the police force, but after passing his examinations in 1928 was instead assigned to the Fire Department. He was driver of Chemical 3 when the company answered an alarm in the 4th Ward a few days before Thanksgiving, 1931. A car, either not hearing or not heeding the fire siren, drove into Hilton’s path at the blind corner of Almaden and Grant Streets. Swerving in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid a collision, he was thrown from the driver’s seat and crushed beneath the rig as it overturned.
Hilton’s wife and family survived him. The fraternal Fire Department group, Starr Hilton Club, was later organized to perpetuate his memory.
September 18, 1929
Engine Co. No. 2 received a midnight alarm of fire from a cottage at 430 North 4th Street. As the company arrived on the scene, Captain Welch suffered a heart attack and subsequently collapsed. Members of his company tried vainly to revive him, while other crews extinguished the fire.
Captain Welch was a San José native, born in 1861. Appointed Extraman in 1896, George Welch at his death was the oldest man in the department in point of service, having been stationed at North 3rd Street (Engine 1 until 1908, later Engine 2) for 33 years. He suffered a broken leg and head injuries in a porch collapse at the 1916 Gillespie Mill fire. In 1922 Welch became acting Captain, a rank made permanent a few months before his death.
October 7, 1926
During the early hours of September 16, 1926, flames that had evidently been smoldering for some time before discovery gutted much of the two-story Alliance Building at 3rd and Santa Clara Streets. Chief Hobson personally led the two-hour fight to control the $75,000 blaze.
The combination of his exertions and exposure to particulates from the fire, for which no respiratory protection was worn at the time, caused him to contract pneumonia, from which he died within two weeks.
Herman W. Hobson was born in San José on December 17, 1872. Chief Herman Hobson’s rise in the Fire Department was steady from the date of his appointment, December 31, 1908. The one-time sign painter, son of Santa Clara Valley pioneers, managed to escape the tribulations of so many fellow-firefighters during those years. Soon he was Captain, February 1910; Assistant Chief in January 1916; Fire Chief in 1918. Hobson backed the successful effort to put his department on a two-platoon system, greatly improving morale as well as giving him reserves to call on during major emergencies.
July 19, 1925
A large tree, its roots loosened by a minor earthquake, fell from an embankment in Alum Rock Park near the interurban car tracks, bringing down the trolley wire and an 11,000 volt feeder circuit which was broken at several points.
Sparks from the fallen wires started a ten-acre grass fire. Trying to put it out, two passersby were killed by accidental contact with the high voltage line. A fire alarm was turned in, and Chemical Co. No. 6 responded from five miles away at 17th and Santa Clara Streets (today’s Engine 8 headquarters)
Unaware of the electrical hazard (the earlier victims having been removed by rescuers), Fireman Consolacio was using a chemical line on the fire when the stream contacted the down wires. He was killed instantly by the electrical current.
January 21, 1921
Captain Fred Hambly was a 15-year veteran of the San Jose Firé Department. In November 1920 San José placed a two-platoon system into effect. During the resulting re-shuffle of assignments, he was made acting Captain of his company.
On the evening of December 7, 1920, Captain Hambly responded with Chemical Co. No. 1 to a $250,000 fire in the F. W. Gross Dry Goods store at 52 South First Street. Groping through the hot darkened basement towards the seat of the fire, he was overcome by smoke and hot gases collapsing in the basement. A rescue was ensued, and Captain Walter Page (later Assistant Chief) of Chemical 5 rescued unconscious Captain Hambly from the basement.
Captain Hambly was taken to O’Connor Sanitarium (now O’Connor Hospital) where he rallied during the ensuing weeks and through Christmas. However, in January 21, 1921, after taking a turn for the worse, he died in Columbia Hospital from the burn injuries to his lungs sustained at the fire. Born in 1885, he was 35 at the time.
September 10, 1910
Perhaps the best-liked Chief Engineer the San José Fire Department ever had. Chief Brown was described as “a most zealous and efficient officer”; “a public official nearest the ideal”; “personally one of the most popular men in the city.”
Son of an earlier Chief of both the Police and Fire Departments in San José, born in San José in 1873, Chief Brown grew up in and around firehouses. Appointed Fireman of Franklin Engine 3 in 1886, he became Foreman in 1898. For the next three years he was appointed Fire Chief.
Popular though he was, he was not without enemies in the rough-and-tumble ward politics of the day. Fired in 1904 for alleged abuses in department disciplinary procedures, he was restored to his post when a new city administration took over in July 1908.
Returning from the Coast Convention of Fire Chiefs in 1910 Chief Brown lost control of his Winton Chief’s car near South San Francisco. It overturned, crushing him beneath it.
His funeral procession down San José’s First Street, a mile and a half in length, witnessed by thousands, was unique in local history. A monument to his memory, paid for by popular subscription, can be seen beneath the shade trees of Oak Hill Memorial Park. Also liquidated by popular subscription was the mortgage with which his widow was left by his death.
April 18, 1906
A member of the department since before its 1898 reorganization, Fireman Furrier served on Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 in the downtown of the city.
Fireman Furrier was on duty in the North San Pedro quarters of his company when the great pre-dawn earthquake disaster of 1906 overwhelmed San José.
On duty at the time and attempting to respond from the collapsing firehouse, he was struck and killed by a falling section of brick wall.
September 26, 1898
While staffing a hose line with other members of his company on the second floor of the old Vendome Hotel on North First Street, shortly before midnight, Fireman McDermott was caught in a sudden collapse of the rear wall and three upper floors. Scalded and suffocated by steam, his body was not found until the next day, under twenty feet of debris.
The general alarm fire in this showplace of the Garden City resulted in a $30,000 loss. Firefighters safely evacuated fifty guests, but the fire caused injuries to several other firefighters.
McDermott was forty at the time, having been born in New York State in 1858. His widow and three children were left almost destitute by his death.