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Memorial Monday

Memorial Monday—Two Fort Worth Firefighters Die After Apparatus Accident

Memorial Monday

Memorial Monday—Two Fort Worth Firefighters Die After Apparatus Accident

Remembering Firefighters Van Buren "V.B." Murphy and Thomas J. O’Brien
Incident Date:

November 5, 1939


Fort Worth Fire Department (TX)

Number of Line-of-Duty Deaths:


 Shortly after 1:00 am on November 5, 1939, Pump Company No. 6 of Fort Worth Fire Department responded to a fire at 519 Jennings Avenue.  

The fire engine left Fire Station No. 6 at Fulton and Peter Smith Streets and headed north to the scene of the fire. While responding, they were struck by a car that headed east at the intersection of Hemphill and Pennsylvania Avenue. The car collided with the rear of the engine—which spun it around, throwing firefighters Murphy and O’Brien from the apparatus.

Firefighter O’Brien was found in the driveway of a gas station 30 feet from the crash site. His head had struck the cement driveway, and he died later that evening in a nearby hospital.  Also injured in the crash was Firefighter Van Buren “V.B.” Murphy, who suffered a basal skull fracture when his head hit the concrete. He died of his injuries the following day, on November 6, 1939.

Firefighters Murphy and O’Brien were among 17 traffic accident victims across the state of Texas that fateful weekend.

Fort Worth American LaFrance Photos from the collection of Ray Bennett


More About Memorial Monday

Memorial Monday is established to remember the sacrifice of firefighters who died in the line of duty before the National Memorial was created in 1981. On the last Monday of every month, a firefighter, or groups of firefighters, will be remembered as we share information about these firefighters and their sacrifice.