Chicago mourns firefighter Jermaine Pelt with celebration of life

Chicagoans mourned another great loss Friday morning during the celebration of life in Pullman for fallen firefighter Jermaine Pelt, the second firefighter killed in the line of duty in one week. 

The service was held at the House of Hope at 11 a.m. His final resting place will be at a cemetery in Blue Island. 

Members of the Chicago Fire Department led the funeral procession from Blake-Lamb Funeral Home in Oak Lawn to House of Hope earlier in the morning.

Pelt, 49, died while battling a fire in the city’s West Pullman neighborhood last Tuesday. 

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office officially ruled Pelt’s death an accident from inhaling smoke and soot.

In a moving tribute to the fallen hero, hundreds of Chicago firefighters filed into Pelt’s visitation on Thursday evening. Pelt served the Chicago Fire Department since 2005. 

Friends and family recalled with tears Pelt's exemplary life.

"Jermaine was one of those special people who constantly found ways to serve and help others," Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said.

Good friend and Corliss High School classmate Chris Murray said he was going to miss cooking and playing cards and watching sports with Pelt.

"Jermaine was the epitome of integrity. He did the right thing. And if you wanted to be a part of his life, you had to be doing something right in yours," he said.

"When we left each other, we always said ‘I love you, brother.’ And for a final time, I have to say: I love you brother."


Pelt was a registered nurse, a paramedic and an instructor at the fire academy. His fellow firefighters remembered him as "the kindest person" at work and a great firehouse cook.

His father, John Pelt, a retired CTA motorman, said he steered his son toward the fire department over the police department because it seemed the less dangerous of the two.

He recalled how his son nicked himself with a knife when he was a toddler so he could get a Band-Aid. "That’s the nurse talking," he said with a laugh.

Just a day after Pelt's death, Lt. Jan Tchoryk was killed while fighting a fire last Wednesday in the Gold Coast

Tchoryk's life and service was celebrated at his funeral on Thursday at St, Joseph Ukrainian Church. 

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, Tchoryk, 55, died of hypertensive-arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

On April 5, a massive fire broke out on the 27th floor of a condo building near Division and DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Tchoryk was one of the first firefighters to arrive at the scene. He later collapsed in a stairwell. 

Tchoryk had been a Chicago firefighter since 1997.

Both men leave behind children. Pelt recently walked his oldest daughter down the aisle at her wedding. 

Help is being provided to their families through fundraisers established by Widows’ and Children’s Fund of the CFD.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.