Palatine honors firefighters' ultimate sacrifice

  • Palatine firefighter/paramedic Dale Stankiewicz prepares to place the wreath at a ceremony Monday recognizing the service and sacrifice of three firefighters who died in the line of duty fighting the 1973 Ben Franklin store fire in downtown Palatine.

    Palatine firefighter/paramedic Dale Stankiewicz prepares to place the wreath at a ceremony Monday recognizing the service and sacrifice of three firefighters who died in the line of duty fighting the 1973 Ben Franklin store fire in downtown Palatine. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine firefighters salute Monday morning during a ceremony recognizing the 42nd anniversary of three volunteer firefighters losing their lives battling a blaze in the village's downtown.

    Palatine firefighters salute Monday morning during a ceremony recognizing the 42nd anniversary of three volunteer firefighters losing their lives battling a blaze in the village's downtown. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Lt. Bill Noland chokes back tears as another firefighter prepares to place the wreath at the ceremony Monday honoring the service and sacrifice of three volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty on this date in 1973. Noland was at the fire at the downtown Ben Franklin store.

    Lt. Bill Noland chokes back tears as another firefighter prepares to place the wreath at the ceremony Monday honoring the service and sacrifice of three volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty on this date in 1973. Noland was at the fire at the downtown Ben Franklin store. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Lt. Bill Noland (middle) chokes back tears as another firefighter prepares to place the wreath during a ceremony Monday recognizing the 42nd anniversary of the Ben Franklin store fire that claimed the lives of three volunteer firefighters. Noland was at the fire in 1973.

    Lt. Bill Noland (middle) chokes back tears as another firefighter prepares to place the wreath during a ceremony Monday recognizing the 42nd anniversary of the Ben Franklin store fire that claimed the lives of three volunteer firefighters. Noland was at the fire in 1973. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of Warren Ahlgrim, attended a ceremony Monday honoring the sacrifice of her husband and two other Palatine volunteer firefighters who died Feb. 23, 1973 battling a blaze in the village's downtown.

    Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of Warren Ahlgrim, attended a ceremony Monday honoring the sacrifice of her husband and two other Palatine volunteer firefighters who died Feb. 23, 1973 battling a blaze in the village's downtown. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine firefighter/paramedic Eric Jordan prepares to handoff a wreath Monday during a ceremony recognizing the 42nd anniversary of three volunteer firefighters losing their lives battling a blaze in the village's downtown.

    Palatine firefighter/paramedic Eric Jordan prepares to handoff a wreath Monday during a ceremony recognizing the 42nd anniversary of three volunteer firefighters losing their lives battling a blaze in the village's downtown. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine firefighter/paramedic Eric Jordan prepares to handoff the wreath at a ceremony Monday held to recognize the service and sacrifice of firefighters who died in the line of duty on this date at the infamous 1973 Ben Franklin store fire in downtown Palatine.

    Palatine firefighter/paramedic Eric Jordan prepares to handoff the wreath at a ceremony Monday held to recognize the service and sacrifice of firefighters who died in the line of duty on this date at the infamous 1973 Ben Franklin store fire in downtown Palatine. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Retired firefighter/paramedic Mark Hallett addresses firefighters and community members Monday at a ceremony honoring the sacrifice of three volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty in 1973.

    Retired firefighter/paramedic Mark Hallett addresses firefighters and community members Monday at a ceremony honoring the sacrifice of three volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty in 1973. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
Daily Herald report
Updated 2/23/2015 1:46 PM

Standing outside in subzero temperatures that kept most suburbanites indoors, Palatine firefighters and community members paid tribute Monday morning to three fallen colleagues on the 42nd anniversary of the day they died battling a massive blaze in the village's downtown.

On Feb. 23, 1973, volunteer firefighters John Wilson, Richard Freeman and Warren Ahlgrim lost their lives fighting a fire in a Ben Franklin store.

 

Some of the firefighters who were there with them that day, along with Ahlgrim's widow, Rose, joined current members of the fire department at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial for a solemn ceremony recognizing their sacrifice.

Members of the Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard presented a wreath at the statue that stands at the memorial in recognition of the firefighters' service, and performed a bell ceremony honoring Wilson, Freeman and Ahlgrim.

The three volunteer firefighters were on the first hose line battling the 1973 fire in the downtown Ben Franklin store. They died while working to put out the fire in the store's basement.

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