Wisconsin Fire & EMS Memorial, Inc. - Wisconsin Rapids, WI

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Firefighter dies battling blaze at West Side building Death is first for personnel at scene in 17 years

The Milwaukee Journal - Saturday, December 24, 1994



A 44-year-old Milwaukee firefighter died early Saturday when he fell through the floor of a burning Sherman Park commercial building, police said.

The firefighter was not immediately identified. He was pulled from the building, in the 4300 block of W. North Ave., and resuscitation efforts began immediately in an ambulance before he was taken to Doyne Hospital in Wauwatosa, where he was pronounced dead.

The firefighter's death was the first at the scene of a fire in Milwaukee in 17 years. The last firefighter to die in the line of duty was Walter Nell on Oct. 17, 1977. Nell was knocked off a ladder when his fire truck was hit by a car.

On Sept. 2, 1992, firefighter Heather Dzioba died of head injuries after she fell about three stories from a practice tower ladder during training.

Investigators from the Police Department's arson unit and the Criminal Investigation Bureau were at the scene. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The two-story building, which was extensively damaged, houses a beauty salon, the T & J Food Market and a resale shop. On the second floor is a non-denominational church, identified as the House of Prayer.

Adjacent to the building is an auto body and auto paint store.

Assistant Pastor Alvin Wells said the House of Prayer owns the building. The church owns the resale shop and leases space to the salon and convenience store. The church has 35 members and has been there 17 years, he said.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 6 a.m. By the time a fourth alarm was called, four ladder trucks and eight engines were at the site. Dozens of firefighters were still there at midmorning, trying to contain the stubborn blaze.

The paint and flammable chemicals in the paint shop were an immediate worry for firefighters, but the auto shop was not damaged.

According to records kept by the Fire Department, 104 Milwaukee firefighters, including the latest victim, have been killed in the line of duty. 

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