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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Honor, Bravery, and Courage: Frank McCormick


Firefighter Frank McCormick

Firefighter Frank McCormick was assigned to Truck #1 the evening of August 14, 1919.  Around 7:00 in the evening, the night watchman at the Northwest Box Factory, at the foot of SW Lincoln Street, noticed a fire underneath the building.  He turned in the fire at the nearest alarm box.

The fire grew fast.  People actually began to line both sides of the river to watch it.  Fire Marshal Grenfell was the first chief to respond to the fire.  Recognizing the magnitude of the fire, he stopped along the way to turn in a third alarm at an alarm box.

The crew on Truck 1 arrived about the same time as the chief.  Flying embers were everywhere.  Concerned for the “Portland Lumber Yard” that was on one side and the “Timms, Cress, & Company” warehouse on the other was high.  Engine 5 put themselves between the box company building and the lumber yard and stuck it out for almost three hours in the heat and smoke.  They probably saved the entire lumber yard from burning.  Chief Grenfell said if the fire had made it to the lumber yard, there would have been no stopping it.

About 20 firefighters took a position on a railroad trestle along the side of the building.  There strategy was to get a better angle on the fire.  Unfortunately, the creosote soaked timbers of the trestle began to catch fire.  Once the trestle began burning, it could not be put out.  It didn’t take long before the firefighters felt it starting to give and we all scrambled to get off. 

That’s when Frank McCormick got hit from the side by the hose being pulled back from the position on the trestle.  It knocked several firefighters off the trestle.  George Asher of Truck 2 fell first followed by McCormick then Abraham Blond.  It was about a 30 foot drop.  Asher and Blond broke some bones but McCormick’s head struck the railroad rail below.  He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in the Chief’s car but was unable to be saved.  He passed away in the early morning of August 15, 1919.    

Firefighter Frank McCormick had served 9 years on the fire department and left a wife and three children (Frank Jr. age 12, Earl age 10, and Mildred age 7).  McCormick is buried in the “Fireman’s Cemetery” in the Lone Fir Cemetery.  

Portland Fire & Rescue honors and remembers Firefighter McCormick's service.


May 12, 2010 


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