Second Line of Duty Death
by Doug Welch,
Town of Manchester Fire Department Historian and Retired Firefighter

Just two years after the first tragic line of duty death, the South Manchester Fire Department was hit with a second tragic death. George W. Bassett, of 229 Hartford Road, was employed as a member of the outside force with the Manchester Electric Company, a subsidiary of Cheney Brothers Silk Mills. He also had been a volunteer fire fighter with Ladder Company No. 1 on Pine Street for about 11 years. His primary duty was tiller man on the Company's 1912 Seagrave hook and ladder truck.

The truck was the first of a kind rear drive and rear steer City Service Hook and Ladder. The chassis was a straight chassis rather than the tractor and truck style commonly associated with tiller trucks.

Mr. Bassett sustained his injuries on Wednesday evening, March 29, 1923 at about 6:50 PM while returning to Station No. 1 from a chimney fire in a four tenement on West Center Street at Cooper. He was seated in his place in the rear seat steering the rear end of the truck. As the truck turned into Pine Street from Center, the rear wheels hit a ridge of ice on Center Street.

One of the ladders bounced from its position and struck Mr. Bassett, knocking him from his seat. He was thrown to the ground striking his head on the roadway. He was picked up by some of the firemen and carried unconscious to a nearby barber shop. Dr. D. C. Y. Moore was called and attended to him. Mr. Bassett regained consciousness and complained of pain in the back of his head. The doctor ordered that he be taken to Manchester Memorial Hospital, where he was found to be suffering from severe head and shoulder injuries.

An X-ray showed that there was no skull fracture, but other tests showed a possible brain injury. Mr. Bassett passed away on the afternoon of Friday, April 6th from his injuries. He was survived by a wife and two children.

December, 2006

Editor's Note: Although unfortunately we don't have a picture of Mr. Bassett, we do have a picture of the type of truck (called a "rear steer" apparatus) he was riding in. You can see the picture of the truck by clicking picture; the entire article can be seen by clicking "Rear Steer" article.