Portland Firefighter History Damaged and Stolen
On September 7th, it was discovered that the David Campbell Memorial Monument had been damaged. The lanterns and stone work received damage but more concerning was the removal of name plates that commemorate the Portland Firefighters who have given their lives in service to the citizens of Portland. The damaged stone work, that has existed for 95 years, cannot be repaired. The vandals proceeded to steal 14 of the 36 name plates. We need your help in recovering these irreplaceable artifacts. Please see the flier below. We welcome information about these items. You may remain anonymous.
Also, we continue to work toward an renovated and more durable Portland Firefighter Memorial Plaza as we recover from, and repair, this recent damage. You can find information and images on the "Portland Firefighter Memorial Plaza" tab of this web site. Stay tuned to this site for continuing information.
We gladly accept support in reaching our goal to honor the 76 Portland Firefighters who have given their lives in service. To support our cause, please visit our "Sponsors/Support" page to move this project forward.
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 Plaza," a renovation of the David Campbell Memorial and installation of a proper Fallen Firefighter Memorial. Details can be found on the Portland Firefighter Memorial Plaza page of this web site. Learn how you can become part of making this project a success.
Retired Portland Firefighter
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...
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.