John J. Webb, Battalion Chief - January 17, 1950 (#107)
District 9 - 2098 San Jose Avenue
Appointed to the Department 1920
Appointed to Lieutenant 1927
Appointed to Captain 1939
Appointed to Battalion Chief 1947
INJURIES KILL FIRE CHIEF
FALSE ALARM CRASH INJURIES KILL FIRE CHIEF
WEBB SUCCUMBS ON OPERATING TABLE AS JOKER’S VICTIM
Battalion Fire Chief John “Spider” Webb died late yesterday on an operating table at San Francisco Hospital, the victim of a cruel joker who thought it was fun to turn in false alarm. The veteran fireman and former professional boxer expired as surgeons attempted to piece together a body shattered Monday when the chief’s car in which he was answering a false alarm skidded into a telephone post.
Chief Webb was 52. He was locally famous back in 1919 as a skilled lightweight fighter.
It was late Monday when an alarm sounded in Chief Webb’s headquarters, Engine 38 firehouse at 2098 San Jose Avenue. He and Driver George L. McGraw, 59, dashed for the light coupe. As they swung screaming out of the firehouse the wheels of the car failed to take on the rain-slicked pavement and it crumpled against the pole. McGraw is at San Francisco Hospital still in serious condition from the effects of a severed left foot.
Police said the area from which the disastrous false alarm sounded recently had been the site of numerous others.
Lieut. George Kelly of the police arson squad was assigned to track down the person or persons responsible.
Chief Webb joined the department in 1920 after abandoning his boxing career. He was named lieutenant in 1927, captain in 1939 and chief three years ago. Webb is commander of the fire department’s ninth district.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ester Webb, of 670 Cayuga Avenue, two sons, John Jr., 20, and Richard, 3; a brother, Battalion Chie Thomas Webb and two sisters, Mrs. Mae Knapp and Mrs. Helen Fisher, both of San Francisco.
THE FATAL FALSE ALARM
Fire Department Battalion Chief Webb received fatal injuries and another fireman was seriously injured Monday evening while driving through the rain in response to a fire alarm.
And it was a FALSE alarm.
When a fire call reaches a station the firemen respond. Like the soldiers in the Light Brigade. “Theirs not to reason why.”
They do not consider whether the alarm is real or was turned in by some feeble-minded miscreant.
Often they are injured in answering legitimate calls. This is part of their highly hazardous service to their city.
It is when such injuries, and, in the case of Chief Webb, death, occur in responding to a false call, that a serious crime has been committed.
Battalion Chief Webb was killed in the performance of his duty.
The perpetrator of that false alarm, if he can be found, should face he penalty for this death.
Source: a San Francisco newpaper
Extracted from original sources with grammar and spelling as published.