ELKHART — Over its 150 years of service to the community, the Elkhart Fire Department has lost eight firefighters in the line of duty.
The department keeps the memory of the fallen firefighters fresh by having department recruits learn about who the firefighters were and how they died.
“It is a way to honor them,” said recruit James Ennis. “We learn how they died and it also allows us to benefit from seeing maybe the things they did that we want to avoid.”
Fire Chief Chad Carey said that history has a way of repeating itself and by remembering the fallen it is a way for the department to grow and be proactive when it comes finding things that it can do better to prevent the loss of life.
“This is a dangerous job and the danger is increasing,” he said.
Below are the names of those who gave their lives in the line of duty:
• Earl Garl, 30, died on Dec. 11, 1908, while responding to an early morning fire alarm. He was heading for the sliding pole “and while adjusting his rig clothing missed clutching the pole and fell head first to the apparatus floor, 18 feet below.” Garl died a short time later leaving behind a wife and two children.
• Fred Shigley, 41, died on Aug. 8, 1913, while inspecting electrical connections during a fire on West Crawford Street. He touched an energized telephone line that had been safely handled two minutes earlier. Shigley left behind a wife and four children.
• Ed Clark, died on Dec. 23, 1948, after being overcome by smoke and exertion at a fire in a warehouse on Elkhart Avenue. He was the former fire chief and helped rebuild the city’s fire alarm system. He was the owner of Clark Baton Company. Clark left behind his wife, two daughters and a stepson.
• Henry Wisolek, 57, died on Oct. 18, 1951, after suffering a heart attack while fighting a fire at 601 Wagner Ave. At the time of his death Wisolek was a Captain at Station No. 3. He left behind a wife and daughter.
• Terry Crouch, 23, died on Sept. 21, 1972, from burns sustained at a fire on Sept. 7, 1972. A fire started under a 300-gallon gasoline tank at Holderman and Son Supply Company on Richmond Street. Crouch had just finished pulling hoses off the back of the fire truck when the tank exploded. He was about 35 feet from the tank and received burns over 90 percent of his body. Another firefighter, Gerald Freed, also died from burns due to the explosion. Nine other firefighters and a police officer were injured.
Crouch left behind a wife and two children.
• Gerald Freed, 58, died on Oct. 3, 1972, from injuries sto an exploding gasoline tank at Holderman and Son Supply Company on Sept. 7, 1972. Freed was the Battalion 2 Chief. He left behind a wife and three children.
• Carl Rheinheimer Jr., 46, died Sept. 20, 1974, of a heart attack while returning from a house fire on Oakwood Avenue. Rheinheimer, captain of Station 4, was returning to the station when he slumped forward in a fire truck. He left behind a wife and four sons.
• Rich Genth, 31, died on July 26, 1981, after drowning while responding to a call of a submerged vehicle in water at the Old Farm Apartments on Mishawaka Road. Genth was sucked under the water by a drainage pipe as he was looking for another person that had been sucked into the water after the wall of a retaining pond collapsed. He left behind one son.
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