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Who Was David Campbell?

David Campbell is probably one of the most storied firefighters to ever serve in Portland, Oregon.  His story is almost legend.  It has been documented in many places and in many ways.  Below are several different accounts of his life and career with Portland Fire & Rescue.  

This compilation was created to consolidate as much of David Campbell's story as possible into one document.  This story follows his life from his birth in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the memorial the community created in his memory.  Click on the PDF symbol to access the story.

David Campbell was well known for his boxing activities.  In about 2010, a man named Bruce Charles researched Campbell's boxing career and came up with this story.  Enjoy.  Click on the PDF symbol to acces the story.  

David Campbell as a firefighter in 1892

1892 Campbell, David.tif
1908 CW Stevens, Dowell, Young, Campbell

David Campbell and his Executive Officers in 1908.  Left to right: Mike Laudenklos, Jay Stevens, David Campbell, Biddy Dowell, John Young.

David Campbell at the wheel of his Pierce Arrow Chief's Car.  Campbell was an advocate for a motorized fire department so he purchased this car in 1909 and used it to beat horse drawn fire apparatus to the scenes of fires.  In 1911, the department purchased their last two horse drawn apparatus and their first two motorized fire engines.  By April of 1920, the department was fully motorized.  

David Campbell First Car.tif
David Campbell Pastel painting.jpg

Two portraits of David Campbell, dates unknown.  The left photo shows him as a Battalion Chief, the right as Chief.  

David Campbell portrait.tif

Four pictures showing the fire where David Campbell lost his life.  The Union Oil Plant was located on SE Water Avenue and Salmon Street.  Campbell arrived to take command of the fire.  In an effort to evacuate personnel from the impending building collapse, he was caught in it and died.  

David Campbell Union Oil Fire 3.jpg
David Campbell Union Oil Fire 1.tif
David Campbell Union Oil Fire 4.jpg
David Campbell Union Oil Fire 2.tif
David Campbell Funeral 2.tif
David Campbell Funeral 3.tif

David Campbell's funeral procession was said to be the largest in Portland history, with an estimated 150,000 citizens lining the path from the Portland Elks Lodge to his grave at Riverview Cemetery to bid him farewell.  

Additional information on Portland Fire History can be found at

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