SLC Fire pays tribute to firefighter who died in historic 1936 blaze

Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 10:19:50-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City firefighters gathered Sunday morning to pay tribute to one of their fallen.

The firefighter they honored died decades ago, but the department said they felt it's important his memory doesn't fade out.

Voices of fire fighters filled the room, with a solemn song of tribute to Merrick D. Blake, a former Salt Lake City Fire Fighter who died in the line of duty on February 7th, 1936.

On that blustery cold February night, the department said, the entire department was called out for the first time in history to battle a blaze in a three-story building on the corner of Broadway and Main in downtown Salt Lake City.

110 fire fighters gave their best, and got the fire out in an hour, the department said during Blake's memorial service.

But with such icy conditions, Blake slipped on a ladder.

"Fire Fighter Blake was critically injured after falling approximately 35 feet off an icy ladder," a dispatcher said, during Blake's last call.

He died later that day, the department said-- the second fire fighter in SLC Fire's history to die in the line of duty.

"It's important for us to connect by learning about these incidents and about these people," said SLC Fire Captain Chris Milne.

He said they've been holding ceremonies like this for a few years to remember each of the 13 fallen in the department.

"We felt like we needed to know about our history, and the fire fighters who went on before us and... paved the way for us," he said.

So with the Last Call, sound of sirens, and ringing of a bell, they gave a nod of respect toward a man who gave his life to keep others safe.