On July 23, 1998, Captain Thomas E. Prendergast of the Chicago Fire Department was on duty working his regular assignment with Engine 78. It was an ordinary work day, and Engine 78 responded to only three alarms prior to 10:00 PM. At approximately 9:53 PM, Engine 78 responded to a still and box alarm (followed by a 2-11 alarm) on North Kenmore Avenue.
Upon Engine 78’s arrival, Prendergast was ordered to lead out a 2 ½” hose line to the rear of the building. Prendergast assisted in stretching and dragging the 2 ½” line to the seat of the fire. Later, as he was manning the 2 ½” line with a 1 ¼” nozzle by himself, Prendergast suffered chest pains and shortness of breath.
Prendergast called out for help, grabbed his chest, bent over and appeared to be gasping for air. A battalion chief walked Prendergast over to Ambulance 31, where he again grabbed his chest, bent over and gasped for air. He was treated by paramedics and then transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital. Ambulance 31 arrived at Illinois Masonic’s Emergency Room at 10:53 hours. Prendergast was released to the emergency room personnel, and was treated, stabilized and admitted to the intensive coronary care unit where he remained for six days.
On July 29, 1998, Prendergast was released from the hospital with the understanding that he would be back at a later date and have coronary artery bypass surgery performed. Prendergast was convalescing at home, when, on August 4, 1998, he was stricken with another heart attack. He was rushed to West Suburban Hospital by Ambulance 15, where efforts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead.