Obituary: John Eversole, Deputy Chief (Ret.), Chicago Fire Department

Deputy Chief (Ret.) John Eversole of the Chicago Fire (IL) Department (CFD), whose pioneering work in the area of hazardous materials and terrorism response left an indelible mark on the history of the U.S. fire service, has died.

Eversole was a member of the CFD from 1969 through 2001, when he retired. He served with great distinction in various capacities, including hazardous materials coordinator (the first in the department). Under his leadership, the department’s haz-mat program was transformed from a unit with one assigned position and a meagerly equipped converted bread truck into a fully staffed and equipped, nationally recognized program with a budget of $1.5 million. At the time Eversole retired from active duty in the CFD, he was chief of special functions and managed the department’s haz mat, technical rescue, specialty apparatus, air-sea rescue, and fire investigation divisions.

Eversole was instrumental in establishing the training curricula for the Illinois HazMat/Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Response Task Force and served as an original member of the technical committee for NFPA 472, Standard for Hazardous Materials Professional Competency (he became chairman of the NFPA 472 Technical Committee after the untimely death of Warren Isman in 1991); the co-chair of the IFSTA Haz Mat Committee and a member of several other IFSTA committees; a participant in the 1987 America Burning Recommissioned Panel; a member of the U.S. Fire Administration’s Firefighter Safety Panel established in the wake of the Kansas City Propane Explosion of 1988; and as a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Author’s Group, established to write the language for the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act.

Besides having been awarded the Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award at FDIC 2004, John received numerous other honors, include the Illinois Society of Fire Service Instructors’ “Instructor of the Year” Award (1982); the Chemical Manufacturers Association “Industry Safety Achievement Award” (2000); the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s “Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award” (2001); a U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Special Programs Administration “Special Recognition Award” (2001); the IAFC “Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference Level A+ Award” (2001); and the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council “George L. Wilson Award,” (2002). On September 25, 2001, Governor George H. Ryan proclaimed “Chief John Eversole Day” in the state of Illinois.

John’s family is looking for anecdotes, stories, and thoughts about him to compile and share. You can e-mail them at

Funeral information:

Thursday, May 24, 2007
2:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Robert J. Sheehy Funeral Home
4950 West 79th Street
Burbank, IL
(708) 857-7878
(West of Cicero Avenue)

Friday, May 25, 2007
9:15 AM at the funeral home
10:00 AM at St. Denis Church
8301 South St. Louis Ave
Chicago, IL 60652
(773) 434-3313
(83rd and St Louis)

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