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Memorial Monday

Memorial Monday — Remembering Herman N. Lewis

Memorial Monday

Memorial Monday — Remembering Herman N. Lewis

Incident Date:

March 22, 1944


Indianappolis Fire Department (IN)

Number of Line-of-Duty Deaths:


On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 22, 1944, Harry Case—the sales director of the Banner-Whitehill Furniture Company, located on South Meridien Street in Indianapolis, Indiana—noticed smoke on the first floor of the building. He quickly called the fire department. Almost immediately afterward, the company’s switchboard stopped working.

Upon receiving the call, firefighters responded immediately. They placed 14 pieces of apparatus in service and stretched seven hose lines to extinguish the fire. Ultimately, the fire reached two alarms; Fire Chief Harry H. Fulmer was in command of the scene.

Engine 13 arrived at the scene, and the crew quickly exited the apparatus to begin their duties. Among them was veteran firefighter Herman N. Lewis, temporarily assigned from Engine 18 for the day. Unfortunately, shortly after disembarking the engine, he experienced a heart attack. Despite receiving immediate treatment in an ambulance at the scene, he tragically succumbed to his injuries while serving on duty.

In addition to the loss of Firefighter Lewis, seven other firefighters were injured fighting the blaze, with smoke inhalation and lacerations. Three of these firefighters were admitted to the hospital and treated for their injuries; others were treated on the scene.

The fire was contained to the basement storage area, sparing the retail store space. Nevertheless, items that were being stored or repaired below were heavily damaged by smoke and water.

Firefighter Lewis was a 25-year veteran of the department; he became a member of the Indianapolis Fire Department on November 6, 1918. Herman was survived by his wife Anna, sons Harold and Kenneth, daughter Laura Mae, three brothers Frank, Charles, and Price, and sister Ida.

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.