Palatine honors firefighters killed in 1973 Ben Franklin fire

  • Palatine firefighter/paramedic Eric Jordan prepares to present a wreath Tuesday during a memorial ceremony honoring fallen volunteer firefighters Warren Ahlgrim, John Wilson and Richard Freeman. The ceremony marked the 43rd anniversary of the Ben Franklin store fire which killed the three firefighters.

    Palatine firefighter/paramedic Eric Jordan prepares to present a wreath Tuesday during a memorial ceremony honoring fallen volunteer firefighters Warren Ahlgrim, John Wilson and Richard Freeman. The ceremony marked the 43rd anniversary of the Ben Franklin store fire which killed the three firefighters. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Retired Palatine firefighter Bill Noland, who battled the Ben Franklin blaze in 1973, embraces Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of fallen firefighter Warren Ahlgrim, during a ceremony Tuesday at the Palatine Fire Memorial.

    Retired Palatine firefighter Bill Noland, who battled the Ben Franklin blaze in 1973, embraces Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of fallen firefighter Warren Ahlgrim, during a ceremony Tuesday at the Palatine Fire Memorial. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine firefighters stand in front of the original snorkel fire truck used by volunteer firefighters to fight the 1973 Ben Franklin fire. Three firefighters killed battling the blaze were honored Tuesday on the 43rd anniversary of the fire.

    Palatine firefighters stand in front of the original snorkel fire truck used by volunteer firefighters to fight the 1973 Ben Franklin fire. Three firefighters killed battling the blaze were honored Tuesday on the 43rd anniversary of the fire. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • An honor guard procession of Palatine firefighters marches from the Palatine Fire Memorial after a ceremony Tuesday honoring three volunteer firefighters killed battling a 1973 blaze at a downtown store.

    An honor guard procession of Palatine firefighters marches from the Palatine Fire Memorial after a ceremony Tuesday honoring three volunteer firefighters killed battling a 1973 blaze at a downtown store. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Retired firefighter Mark Hallett salutes Tuesday during a ceremony honoring fallen Palatine firefighters Warren Ahlgrim, John Wilson and Richard Freeman. They were killed Feb. 23, 1973 battling a fire at a Ben Franklin store in the village's downtown.

    Retired firefighter Mark Hallett salutes Tuesday during a ceremony honoring fallen Palatine firefighters Warren Ahlgrim, John Wilson and Richard Freeman. They were killed Feb. 23, 1973 battling a fire at a Ben Franklin store in the village's downtown. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine firefighters stand at attention as Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of fallen firefighter Warren Ahlgrim, looks on during a ceremony Tuesday honoring him and fellow firefighters killed battling the Ben Franklin store fire in 1973.

    Palatine firefighters stand at attention as Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of fallen firefighter Warren Ahlgrim, looks on during a ceremony Tuesday honoring him and fellow firefighters killed battling the Ben Franklin store fire in 1973. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Retired Palatine firefighter Bill Noland, who battled the 1973 Ben Franklin store fire ion the village's downtown, stands at attention Tuesday during a ceremony honoring three colleagues who died that day.

    Retired Palatine firefighter Bill Noland, who battled the 1973 Ben Franklin store fire ion the village's downtown, stands at attention Tuesday during a ceremony honoring three colleagues who died that day. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
Daily Herald report
Updated 2/23/2016 12:39 PM

Palatine firefighters and community members gathered Tuesday morning for a solemn ceremony to remember the lives and sacrifice of three of their own who perished 43 years ago battling one of the community's most notorious fires.

Volunteer firefighters Warren Ahlgrim, Richard Freeman and John Wilson were honored during the annual observance marking the anniversary of the Feb. 23, 1973 fire at the Ben Franklin store in the village's downtown.

 

The ceremony featured an honor guard procession, the tolling of a bell and the laying of a wreath at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial. It also marked the return of Palatine's first aerial truck, purchased earlier this year by West Dundee resident John Tobin, whose father, Dave, was among the Palatine firefighters on the scene of the Ben Franklin fire.

Tobin tracked the 1969 truck to Pierceton, Indiana, where it ended up after the Palatine department sold it in 1981 to downstate Salem, Illinois.

Among those attending Tuesday's ceremony were retired Palatine firefighters who fought the Ben Franklin blaze and Rose Ahlgrim, the widow of Warren Ahlgrim.

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