While responding to a fire in a commercial building, J.D. Sullivan and Ambrose Shea’s fire truck was struck by another fire truck being driven to the same scene. Sullivan was thrown from the front seat of the open-cab truck, and Shea was thrown from the back tailboard; both suffered fatal injuries, the first deaths experienced by the Phoenix Fire Department. Sullivan, a captain, had enjoyed a distinguished career as a fireman for thirteen years, first with Phoenix, then as a fire chief in Mesa and then again in Phoenix, being so dedicated that he lived at Central Station. Shea, a hoseman, was a gifted baseball player who had been slated to begin as a Major League catcher a few months later.
This firefighter line of duty fatality occurred before the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial was built in Emmitsburg, Maryland. While this firefighter has not been officially honored at the Memorial site, there are plans to do so when resources are available.