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posted: 2/23/2013 3:53 PM

Fallen Palatine firefighters remembered 40 years later

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  • Palatine Fire Chief Scott Andersen talks about the ultimate sacrifice given by three fallen volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several suburban departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

       Palatine Fire Chief Scott Andersen talks about the ultimate sacrifice given by three fallen volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several suburban departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine Fire Chief Scott Andersen talks about the ultimate sacrifice given by three fallen volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several suburban departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

       Palatine Fire Chief Scott Andersen talks about the ultimate sacrifice given by three fallen volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several suburban departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Firefighters from Palatine and other area fire departments stand during a ceremony to honor the memory of three fallen Palatine volunteer firefighters Saturday on the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

       Firefighters from Palatine and other area fire departments stand during a ceremony to honor the memory of three fallen Palatine volunteer firefighters Saturday on the 40th anniversary of their deaths.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Retired firefighter Mark Hallett, right, salutes the flag carried by the Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard Saturday during a ceremony honoring the sacrifice made by three volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.

       Retired firefighter Mark Hallett, right, salutes the flag carried by the Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard Saturday during a ceremony honoring the sacrifice made by three volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine firefighter Dale Stankiewicz carries a wreath to place on the memorial for three fallen volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several area departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

       Palatine firefighter Dale Stankiewicz carries a wreath to place on the memorial for three fallen volunteer firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several area departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • A wreath was placed Saturday on the memorial for three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from area departments, attended a ceremony honoring their memory and commemorating the 40th anniversary of their deaths at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial.

       A wreath was placed Saturday on the memorial for three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from area departments, attended a ceremony honoring their memory and commemorating the 40th anniversary of their deaths at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • A bagpiper plays after the placing of a wreath on the memorial for three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several area departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

       A bagpiper plays after the placing of a wreath on the memorial for three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from several area departments, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Firefighters Memorial in downtown Palatine to honor their memory and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Retired firefighter Mark Hallett talks about the traditions observed to mark the death of a firefighter, such as the Honor Guard presentation, the playing of bagpipes, and the sounding of a bell three times. A wreath was placed Saturday on the memorial for three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.

       Retired firefighter Mark Hallett talks about the traditions observed to mark the death of a firefighter, such as the Honor Guard presentation, the playing of bagpipes, and the sounding of a bell three times. A wreath was placed Saturday on the memorial for three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Retired firefighter Mark Hallett sounds the bell three times for each of the fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.

       Retired firefighter Mark Hallett sounds the bell three times for each of the fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • The Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard procession honored the memory of three fallen volunteer firefighters Saturday who were killed in a fire on this date 40 years ago. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from area departments, attended the ceremony at the Firefighters Memorial at the corner of North Brockway and West Slade streets in downtown Palatine.

       The Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard procession honored the memory of three fallen volunteer firefighters Saturday who were killed in a fire on this date 40 years ago. Roughly 200 people, including firefighters from area departments, attended the ceremony at the Firefighters Memorial at the corner of North Brockway and West Slade streets in downtown Palatine.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • This Pierceton Snorkel unit was used during the Feb. 23, 1973, fire in which three volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, perished. The snorkel was the department's big ladder truck.

       This Pierceton Snorkel unit was used during the Feb. 23, 1973, fire in which three volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, perished. The snorkel was the department's big ladder truck.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

 
 

An Honor Guard procession, the placing of a wreath, the forlorn wail of a lone bagpipe playing, and the mournful knell of bells Saturday marked the sacrifice of three fallen volunteer Palatine firefighters, John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim, who perished during a fire rescue on Feb. 23, 1973.

"We do this every year," retired Palatine firefighter Mark Hallett said. "We never let their memory die. We never will."

Roughly 200 people, including retired and current firefighters from Palatine, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows and Palatine Rural Fire, attended a ceremony Saturday at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial to honor the memory of their fallen brethren and commemorate the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

Ahlgrim, Freeman and Wilson perished of carbon monoxide inhalation when their air packs emptied while responding to a basement fire at a Ben Franklin variety store.

Palatine Fire Chief Scott Andersen said to this day the names of the department's fallen heroes are written on a dry-erase board on the firehouse wall to remember their sacrifices and as a cautionary reminder of the dangers of the job.

"One name on this dry-erase board is one too many," Andersen said. "This is what we do. This is our chosen profession. This is the tradition of a firefighter."

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