Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Firefighter Jermaine Pelt died of smoke inhalation on duty this April. Lt. Jan Tchoryk died a day later of a heart attack while battling a blaze. In August, Lt. Kevin Ward died of injuries he suffered while trapped in the basement of a burning home.

Photos of Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt and his family are printed on his funeral’s program at House of Hope in the Pullman neighborhood, Friday, April 14, 2023. Pelt, 49, died while trying to put out a house fire in the 12000 block of South Wallace Street on April 4.
Photos of Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt and his family are printed on his funeral’s program at House of Hope in the Pullman neighborhood, Friday, April 14, 2023. Pelt, 49, died while trying to put out a house fire in the 12000 block of South Wallace Street on April 4. Pat Nabong / Chicago Sun-Times

Then, in November, firefighter Andrew Price died after falling four stories in the thick of a blaze.

It’s the first time the Chicago Fire Department has seen four line-of-duty deaths in a single year in a quarter century. The year of tragedy has shaken the city’s thousands of firefighters and is forcing department leaders to find ways to support grieving members.

At Price’s November funeral at Navy Pier, hundreds of firefighters saluted their fallen colleague before his remains were whisked away by the fire engine he once drove.

Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price carry his remains onto a fire engine after his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price carry his remains onto a fire engine after his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times

White handkerchiefs dotted the sea of navy blue uniforms, and tears were shed. But many of the mourners put on brave faces of stoicism.

Firefighter Eric Griswold, 48, even allowed a small smile as he remembered the few times he worked alongside Price.

Griswold said he was still trying to digest the losses of the past year.

“It’s a lot for us,” Griswold said.

When asked how he was coping with the grief, Griswold said he would go back to work and dedicate his efforts to Price and the other fallen members.

“We have a duty, we took an oath,” he said. “And we press on no matter what.”

Fire Department Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said other firefighters are responding in a similar manner — by re-committing to the job.

Nance-Holt said after Price’s death the department offered workers at Price’s Lincoln Park firehouse the day off, but the offer was largely rejected.

“Most people don’t want to go home,” Nance-Holt said. “[We’re doing] anything we can do to help them. But as a department, how we usually grieve is together.”

Nance-Holt said the department has counselors available to firefighters in need.

But many, like Griswold, won’t seek out the help.

Experts like clinical psychologist Carrie Steiner say that’s concerning. Steiner believes many firefighters need the extra support right now, and she worries the city isn’t doing enough to provide it.

Mourners attend the funeral service for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Lt. Tchoryk, 55, a member of the department for 26 years, died April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a high-rise building on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast neighborhood — the second firefighter to die in the line of duty that week.
Mourners attend the funeral service for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Lt. Tchoryk, 55, a member of the department for 26 years, died April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a high-rise building on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast neighborhood — the second firefighter to die in the line of duty that week. Anthony Vazquez / Chicago Sun-Times

The problem, Steiner said, is that many in the department don’t trust the city-provided counseling. They don’t believe it’s truly confidential. Or they’re worried they’ll be diagnosed with mental health issues that disqualify them from duty.

Steiner is a former police officer who exclusively counsels first responders. When she was with the Chicago Police Department, Steiner said she saw firsthand how many officers were unwilling to accept department-offered help. She believes a similar barrier could prevent some firefighters from getting the help they need.

Steiner also said there is a culture among first responders not to express grief or seek additional help. She is familiar with the stoicism borne by Griswold and others at Price’s funeral.

But “firefighters have tear ducts as well,” Steiner said, and it is paramount they “feel their emotions rather than trying to suppress them.”

Larry Langford, a CFD spokesperson, said the department’s counseling program prioritizes member privacy and that firefighters “are encouraged to seek the services they are most comfortable with.”

Steiner thinks the department should be more proactive and offer its firefighters mandatory training on how to recognize and deal with trauma in the workplace. She wants them to become as familiar with the symptoms of trauma as they are with throwing ladders.

(From left) Chicago Fire Department Lt. Kevin Ward’s ex-wife, Corrinne Walenda; sister, Wren Aislinn; and dad, John Ward, mourn after his funeral at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the Magnificent Mile, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Ward, 58, died at Loyola Medical Center, where he was taken from a fire on Aug. 11 in the 8300 block of West Balmoral Avenue on the Northwest Side.
(From left) Chicago Fire Department Lt. Kevin Ward’s ex-wife, Corrinne Walenda; sister, Wren Aislinn; and dad, John Ward, mourn after his funeral at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the Magnificent Mile, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Ward, 58, died at Loyola Medical Center, where he was taken from a fire on Aug. 11 in the 8300 block of West Balmoral Avenue on the Northwest Side. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times

“That way,” Steiner said, “it won’t leak out later when you’re drinking [to cope with the pain] or when you’re on a fire, where all of a sudden you get overwhelmed with emotion.” Emotion that can put their lives, and the lives of their crew members in danger, she said.

“That’s why it’s so important to address the issue now,” Steiner said, because “it’s not normal to have four of your co-workers die.”

Anna Savchenko is a reporter for WBEZ. You can reach her at asavchenko@wbez.org.

Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Fire Department personnel carry a plaque, Chicago flag and helmet for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price during the procession into his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Firefighter Jermaine Pelt died of smoke inhalation on duty this April. Lt. Jan Tchoryk died a day later of a heart attack while battling a blaze. In August, Lt. Kevin Ward died of injuries he suffered while trapped in the basement of a burning home.

Photos of Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt and his family are printed on his funeral’s program at House of Hope in the Pullman neighborhood, Friday, April 14, 2023. Pelt, 49, died while trying to put out a house fire in the 12000 block of South Wallace Street on April 4.
Photos of Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt and his family are printed on his funeral’s program at House of Hope in the Pullman neighborhood, Friday, April 14, 2023. Pelt, 49, died while trying to put out a house fire in the 12000 block of South Wallace Street on April 4. Pat Nabong / Chicago Sun-Times

Then, in November, firefighter Andrew Price died after falling four stories in the thick of a blaze.

It’s the first time the Chicago Fire Department has seen four line-of-duty deaths in a single year in a quarter century. The year of tragedy has shaken the city’s thousands of firefighters and is forcing department leaders to find ways to support grieving members.

At Price’s November funeral at Navy Pier, hundreds of firefighters saluted their fallen colleague before his remains were whisked away by the fire engine he once drove.

Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price carry his remains onto a fire engine after his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price carry his remains onto a fire engine after his funeral in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Firefighter Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, died Nov. 13 after he fell through a light shaft while battling a blaze in a building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times

White handkerchiefs dotted the sea of navy blue uniforms, and tears were shed. But many of the mourners put on brave faces of stoicism.

Firefighter Eric Griswold, 48, even allowed a small smile as he remembered the few times he worked alongside Price.

Griswold said he was still trying to digest the losses of the past year.

“It’s a lot for us,” Griswold said.

When asked how he was coping with the grief, Griswold said he would go back to work and dedicate his efforts to Price and the other fallen members.

“We have a duty, we took an oath,” he said. “And we press on no matter what.”

Fire Department Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said other firefighters are responding in a similar manner — by re-committing to the job.

Nance-Holt said after Price’s death the department offered workers at Price’s Lincoln Park firehouse the day off, but the offer was largely rejected.

“Most people don’t want to go home,” Nance-Holt said. “[We’re doing] anything we can do to help them. But as a department, how we usually grieve is together.”

Nance-Holt said the department has counselors available to firefighters in need.

But many, like Griswold, won’t seek out the help.

Experts like clinical psychologist Carrie Steiner say that’s concerning. Steiner believes many firefighters need the extra support right now, and she worries the city isn’t doing enough to provide it.

Mourners attend the funeral service for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Lt. Tchoryk, 55, a member of the department for 26 years, died April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a high-rise building on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast neighborhood — the second firefighter to die in the line of duty that week.
Mourners attend the funeral service for Chicago Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk at St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Northwest Side, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Lt. Tchoryk, 55, a member of the department for 26 years, died April 5 while battling an extra-alarm blaze in a high-rise building on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast neighborhood — the second firefighter to die in the line of duty that week. Anthony Vazquez / Chicago Sun-Times

The problem, Steiner said, is that many in the department don’t trust the city-provided counseling. They don’t believe it’s truly confidential. Or they’re worried they’ll be diagnosed with mental health issues that disqualify them from duty.

Steiner is a former police officer who exclusively counsels first responders. When she was with the Chicago Police Department, Steiner said she saw firsthand how many officers were unwilling to accept department-offered help. She believes a similar barrier could prevent some firefighters from getting the help they need.

Steiner also said there is a culture among first responders not to express grief or seek additional help. She is familiar with the stoicism borne by Griswold and others at Price’s funeral.

But “firefighters have tear ducts as well,” Steiner said, and it is paramount they “feel their emotions rather than trying to suppress them.”

Larry Langford, a CFD spokesperson, said the department’s counseling program prioritizes member privacy and that firefighters “are encouraged to seek the services they are most comfortable with.”

Steiner thinks the department should be more proactive and offer its firefighters mandatory training on how to recognize and deal with trauma in the workplace. She wants them to become as familiar with the symptoms of trauma as they are with throwing ladders.

(From left) Chicago Fire Department Lt. Kevin Ward’s ex-wife, Corrinne Walenda; sister, Wren Aislinn; and dad, John Ward, mourn after his funeral at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the Magnificent Mile, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Ward, 58, died at Loyola Medical Center, where he was taken from a fire on Aug. 11 in the 8300 block of West Balmoral Avenue on the Northwest Side.
(From left) Chicago Fire Department Lt. Kevin Ward’s ex-wife, Corrinne Walenda; sister, Wren Aislinn; and dad, John Ward, mourn after his funeral at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the Magnificent Mile, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Ward, 58, died at Loyola Medical Center, where he was taken from a fire on Aug. 11 in the 8300 block of West Balmoral Avenue on the Northwest Side. Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times

“That way,” Steiner said, “it won’t leak out later when you’re drinking [to cope with the pain] or when you’re on a fire, where all of a sudden you get overwhelmed with emotion.” Emotion that can put their lives, and the lives of their crew members in danger, she said.

“That’s why it’s so important to address the issue now,” Steiner said, because “it’s not normal to have four of your co-workers die.”

Anna Savchenko is a reporter for WBEZ. You can reach her at asavchenko@wbez.org.