Today in Detroit Fire Department history – May 29, 1919, Detroit Firefighter Line of Duty Death
Detroit Fire Department Pipeman Peter J. Condry made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the citizens of Detroit. At the time of his death Peter was assigned to Flying Squadron Company No. 1.
A fire was reported in the basement of the plant of Berry Brothers Varnish Company around 2:00pm March 29th, 1919. Pipeman Condry was overcome by gas inhalation while working at the fire. He was taken to Receiving Hospital for treatment. He later returned to duty at his quarters. Around 10:30 pm Peter complained of not feeling well. After being examined by the department surgeon he returned to the hospital. Pipeman Condry died at 12:30 am May 29, 1919.
Gas inhalation from this fire also caused the death of Pipeman William O’Brien and hospitalized 6 other firefighters. Those hospitalized were: Robert Ferry, Joseph Maher, Arthur Weber, Joseph Sullivan, Harry Callahan, and Neil Garrison. All but Garrison were members of Flying Squadron 1.
It was later found that the gas which was inhaled was formed by burning celluloid. The coroner recommended “that an ordinance be passed making it obligatory for any person or Firm to report to the Fire Department when they have any article in their building, the burning of which will form a gas.”
Peter Condry was born in Roscommon Co. Ireland. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States on January 27, 1916 in New Jersey. He came to Detroit on March 8, 1916.
On September 25, 1916 he applied to the Detroit Fire Department for the position of Pipeman. He began working as a substitute fireman on October 2, 1916. On January 1, 1917 Peter began his full time employment with the Detroit Fire Department. At the time of his death he had served with the department for only 2 years and 5 months. Peter was 29 years old.
The day after his death a detail of Brother Firemen with Chief William Courtney in charge escorted the remains of Pipeman Condry to the railroad depot. His body was shipped to his sister, Mary Condry, who lived in Elizabeth, NJ for burial.
When Pipeman Condry passed away Chief of Department William McGraw learned that he had no relatives living in Detroit. The Chief took possession of all his belongings for safe keeping. They were later delivered to his sister.