District Chief John F. Egan and five members of the same fire company lost their lives during a fire at the George Bent Bedding Company, known as the Merrimac Street Fire, which occurred in the early morning hours of February 5, 1898, during a collapse of the interior floors.
District Chief Egan was born on April 21, 1849. He was employed as a roofer before being appointed to the Department on February 3, 1876, and was assigned to Ladder 1 (Downtown). He was promoted to Lieutenant on April 18, 1882, remaining assigned to Ladder 1. He was promoted to Captain one year later, on July 10,1883, and again remained at Ladder 1. He was promoted to District Chief and assigned to District 1 (East Boston). He later transferred to District 3 (Downtown) and had his quarters at Fort Hill Square (Downtown).
In the over twenty years he served in the Department, Chief Egan had developed a reputation as one of it’s most daring members. He was injured many times and had several narrow escapes. The Lincoln Street Fire of 1893 and the Masonic Building Fire of 1895 were several of his most memorable experiences.
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.