LINCOLN PARK — Firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price’s death while battling a Lincoln Park blaze Monday marked the fourth death among Chicago firefighters this year — the deadliest year for the Chicago Fire Department since 1998.
Price, 39, was among the firefighters battling the blaze early Monday at 2430-32 N. Lincoln Ave., which houses the Lincoln Station bar and grill plus apartments on upper floors. He was on the roof with other firefighters to extinguish hot spots when he fell through a light shaft, officials said.
Price was found in the structure’s basement and was rescued by fellow firefighters. He was rushed in “extremely critical condition” to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where he died from his injuries, officials said.
Price, a firefighter since 2009 who was married with children, is the fourth Chicago firefighter to die in the line of duty this year. The last time four firefighters died within a year was in 1998, according to the Illinois Fire Institute.
The most recent firefighter death was last month, when Lt. Kevin Ward died of injuries from an Aug. 11 fire near O’Hare. Firefighters Jan Tchoryk and Jermaine Pelt also died on the job within days of each other in April.
“This has been a tragic week for us, unprecedented,” Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt after the deaths of Tchoryk and Pelt. “I can’t tell you how this impacts us, losing two members in two days. As I said yesterday, this job is dangerous, and you never know if you’re coming home …”
Larry Langford, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fire Department, did not return a request for an interview about the string of firefighter deaths.
In an interview with the Block Club Chicago Podcast, Arlington Heights firefighter Drew Hansen said although new technologies have made firefighting safer and more efficient, changes in how buildings and furniture are made have allowed for blazes to spread much faster.
“We’ve seen dramatic advancements in technology,” Hansen said. “With that being said … a lot of the actual fires themselves have become significantly more dangerous at the same time.”
Listen to a firefighter explain why fires are spreading faster:
Much of modern furniture is made using byproducts from the oil industry known as petrochemicals, something firefighters often refer to as “solid gasoline,” Hansen said. Additionally, modern homes are often built using wooden trusses, which are smaller and lighter weight — but more flammable — than the old timbers that were previously used.
“So as the firefighting career has become safer and the technologies become safer, homes themselves and what’s in the homes have become more dangerous for us,” Hansen said.
The cause of the fire at Lincoln Station remained under investigation Tuesday, but officials said the blaze started in the business’ kitchen.
Nance-Holt, who knew Price from working out together, said he was beloved among his coworkers.
“I’m shedding a lot of tears right now,” Nance-Holt said. “We all knew Drew.”
Battalion Chief Michael McCormack described Price as a “lovely man” who was a “light of sunshine [who] never had a bad thing to say about anybody.”
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: