‘Ringing of the Bell’ ceremony held at Edgebrook firehouse
by BRIAN NADIG
A “Ringing of the Bell” ceremony and the unveiling of a memorial honoring a firefighter who gave his life in the line of duty in 1905 was held Friday, Aug. 28, outside the Engine Company 79 firehouse, 6424 N. Lehigh Ave., in Edgebrook.
The ceremony was held on the 115th anniversary of the death of lieutenant William Mayer, who suffocated while responding to a fire at the Fair Store, 5238 N. Clark St., which was a discount department store chain founded in Chicago.
Mayer went into a barn behind the store to rescue four children, but he did not make it out alive, according to the Chicago Fire Department. In the horse-drawn era, the barn in the back of the store had hay on the top floor that had caught on fire.
The bell ringing is a solemn tradition intended to honor firefighters who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Mayer joined the fire department on March 1, 1886, and later became the first lieutenant assigned to Engine 79, which at the time was located in a 2 1/2-story frame building at 5358 N. Ashland Ave.
In 1925, that firehouse was replaced with a new structure, which closed as a firehouse in 1969 but still stands today. The engine company moved to its current location in Edgebrook in 1970.
Also at the event, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the dedication of the firehouse’s new kitchen, which resulted from a fund-raising drive sponsored by the Edgebrook Woman’s Club. The club’s campaign included a “Fire and Ice” buffet fund-raiser in 2016.
In a Facebook posting, Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) thanked the woman’s club. “Through a 3-year process and staunch advocation, we were able to replace Engine 79’s dilapidated kitchen with a brand new one,” he said.