Death of Chief Thomas O’Connor.
Thomas O’Connor, chief of the New Orleans fire department, shot and killed himself last Sunday. Col. Henry O. Seixas, his friend, shot and killed himself in Central Park, New York, on the day previous. New Orleans friends of both men profess to see close relationship between the two suicides. Col. Seixas some time ago wrote a letter to a former partner, George A. Wiegand, asking him to take charge of his affairs, “in case of sudden death.” Knowing Col. Seixas’s optimistic temperament, as displayed in a vigorous commercial career. Mr. Wiegand had no thought that the letter was an intimation of suicide, though now he realizes its purport, t hief O’Connor, like lus friend, had been in ill-health, lie was 72 years of age, and had been the chief of the New Orleans lire department 12 years, taking charge when it was a volunteer force. Me was up to two months ago as active as his subordinates. lie believed thoroughly in the ethics which prescribe that a lire chief never must send lus men where he himself would not go, and was almost too daring in former years. Six years ago he was badly hurt by a falling wall. The chief was the oldest head of a fire department in America, both as to age and length of service as chief. Me was president of the National Association of Fire Chiefs in 1083, which later changed its name to International Association of Fire Engineers, and was a noted figure at the annual conventions. Though a fireman since the days of hand pumps and buckets, the chief was abreast of the times, and did much to obtain for bis department automobile chemicals and engines, water towers, deck nozzles and other up-to-the-minute apparatus. He, however, drew the line on steampropelled fire apparatus, despite the liigh favor in which they were held by the New Orleans city council. Another innovation opposed by him was a recent law’ compelling him to try firemen accused of misdemeanor or breaches of discipline, thus forcing him to pass sentence on men who had spent years in the service with him. Mis tragic death will he learned with sad regret mingled with great surprise, as he was one of the last men whom his acquaintances would ever suspect of self-destruction. Mis motive so far as learned mystery. He was a native of New’ Orleans, and at a very early age became a torch boy with the hose company of Protection No. 10. In 1858 lie became a member of engine company No. 5, and also a member of the Eiremen’s Charitable Association, which corporation contracted with the city for the extinguishment of fires. He was elected chief engineer of the volunteer department January 4, 1860, and served as such until December 15, 1801, when a full paid department was inaugurated and O’Connor’s name was inserted in the city ordinance as chief engineer of the new department, and the other three suburban district departments were brought under command of Chief O’Connor. His department at present consists of 17 companies with a force of 304 men, full paid. He became a member of the National Association of Fire Engineers in 1874, and was president in 1884. The convention was held in New Orleans that year, and has al ways been considered one of the notable events in the association’s histon on account of the royal manlier its members were entertained al the hands of the city and its popular chief.