Chicago honors firefighter Jermaine Pelt on anniversary of his death

A memorial ceremony on Thursday brought back the pain of last year’s loss for the Chicago Fire Department.

Firefighter Jermaine Pelt was honored at the Quinn Fire Academy and at a service on the lakefront that began with ringing a bell, which symbolizes a firefighter’s return home.

Pelt, 49, died battling a house fire in Pullman on April 4, 2023. He had served with the department 18 years and was also an EMT, a nurse and training officer.

He was a role model on the South Side.

"He rushed into danger for our sake and our safety and there’s no greater testimony to Jermaine’s commitment than this," Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

"The badge gives us a place to honor him, if you say his name, he lives with us forever," added Shun Hayes of the Chicago Fire Department.

Fire Commissioner Annette Nance Holt presented an award to Pelt’s son, telling him his father would always be regarded as a hero. To Pelt’s team from Engine 75, she encouraged them to live and work as he would.

"My heart is with you, I cry, too. I grieve with you but we have to stay together and honor his memory by being safe every time we go out there to answer the call."

Pelt’s badge, number 1158, is on display now. At Firefighter Memorial Park, a helicopter flew over. A brick with his name ensures he will never be forgotten.

The fire department will honor three more firefighters who made the sacrifice last year, marking one of the most tragic periods in department history.