Remembering Our Fallen
By Asst. Chief Gregory Taft, Retired
October 12, 1928: At 2:10 p.m., a report of a fire at 4530 W. 46th Avenue was received and companies were dispatched. Tragedy stuck in the intersection of 44th & Federal as Truck 12 and Engine 7 collided. Firefighters were hurled in all directions, resulting in the death of three and the injuring of five. The Lieutenant of Truck 12 was the only one not transported to the hospital. Killed in the accident were Firefighters William H. Barber and Richard R. Schwairy of Engine 7 and Silas E. Briggs of Truck 12. They became the 19th, 20th, and 21st Denver Firefighters to die in the line of duty. Chief Healy was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News stating, "My only explanation is the spirit of rivalry that exists in the Denver Fire Department. Each company wants to be first at a fire. This spirit of rivalry, this competition, is the foundation of the morale of our department." Unfortunately, the cause of the alarm was a 10-cent comb that ignited when it was dropped down a hot-air furnace pipe. Silas Briggs’ son, William, would also die in the line of duty in 1944. Today, we have safety protocols, seatbelts, and GPS technology to prevent accidents like this.
Photos courtesy of Denver Public Library