Firefighter remembers 6 responders who died in Boston fire 120 years ago

Retired firefighter Bill Noonan has dedicated himself to documenting the history of the factory blaze that killed 6 Boston firefighters on Feb 5, 1898

By FireRescue1 Staff

BOSTON — A retired firefighter has made it his mission to honor six firefighters that died in a factory blaze 120 years ago.

On Feb 5, 1898, 10 firefighters became trapped inside the George W. Bent & Co. mattress factory when the roof collapsed during a fire, according to Boston Globe. They fell four floors into the basement and were buried under mattress materials.

Six of the 10 firefighters did not make it out alive. Patrick Disken, John Mulhern, George Gottwald and William Welch were found dead in the basement, District Fire Chief John Egan died on the way to the hospital and Captain James Victory died shortly after the fire.

Retired firefighter Bill Noonan is now attempting to document the history of the Boston Fire Department for the Boston Fire Historical Society by collecting library archives, and said people should pay more tribute to the men who died in the “catastrophic” event.

“It must have been terrible,” Noonan said. “If you’re killed outright, it’s one thing, but if you’re trapped and you can’t get out – it must be like quicksand.”

Noonan said he and the Society have tried to get a memorial up and running for firefighters who have died in the line of duty, but nothing has come of it yet.

“Most people don’t seem to care or pay attention to it, but I think it should be remembered every year,” he said. “It was 120 years ago, but all those guys were married and had children.”


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