David Campbell
Memorial Association

The David Campbell Memorial Association (DCMA) is the caretaker of the legacy and memory of Portland Firefighters who have given their lives in service to the citizens of Portland, Oregon.  

The DCMA was established in 1913, two years after the death of Fire Chief David Campbell.  Their goal was to safeguard the memory of Chief Campbell and award medals of valor for acts of bravery by Portland Firefighters that exemplified Chief Campbell himself.  

Today, the DCMA continues to caretake the David Campbell Memorial, recognize acts of valor by Portland Firefighters, and provide a legacy for all Portland Firefighters who have given their lives in service to the city of Portland.  

 

Currently, the DCMA is spearheading the development of "Portland Firefighter Memorial Park," a renovation of the David Campbell Memorial and installation of a proper Fallen Firefighter Memorial.  Details can be found on the Portland Firefighter Memorial Park page of this web site.  Learn how you can become part of making this project a success.

Don Porth   
 Retired Portland Firefighter

President, DCMA

1931 c_Campbell Memorial.jpg

The Borrowed Coat

The DCMA incorporates the "Firefighter's Cross" surrounding the image of a firefighter turnout coat as a symbol of Chief Campbell's sacrifice.  As the story is told...

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On June 26, 1911, an alarm came in from E. Salmon and Water Street shortly after 7:45 a.m. An oil pump at the Union Oil distributing plant had thrown a spark, igniting gas accumulated in its motor pit. As he got into his automobile, Chief Campbell knew the fire would be hot. One of the first at the scene, he began directing arriving engine companies. By 8:30, every fire company in the city was on the line, an incredible jumble of men, machines and horses, slipping in inches of water as they tried to position themselves.

Realizing that the fire was out of control and his men inside the building were in peril, Campbell borrowed a turnout coat from one of his men and disappeared into the building. At 8:39, there was an ominous rumble from the basement as accumulated gases approached their flashpoint. The explosion hurled bodies across the street, tank heads flew 200 feet in the air, the north wall was tossed across the street, and the roof rose into the air, then fell back to the ground. Campbell was last seen silhouetted against the flames, holding up his arms to brace against the falling roof.

 

By 10:15 a.m. when the fire was brought under control, word had passed from engine company to engine company that Chief Campbell had gone into the building before the explosion and had not come out. A body was found huddled in the building but it was not immediately known if it was Campbell or some other firefighter.  The connection between the borrowed coat and Chief Campbell's body was finally made, making clear the sacrifice he made for his crews.