Joseph Torkos

Fire Engineer Operator

Fire Engineer Torkos and his engine company were responding to a report of a structure fire in a vacant residence. Fire Engineer Torkos was driving with the apparatus lights and siren in operation. The engine was staffed by an officer, Fire Engineer Torkos, and 2 firefighters. As the apparatus responded, it was struck by a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV that approached from the right side of the apparatus at high speed. The force of the collision deflected the path of the apparatus and it ended up off the opposite side of the roadway. Fire Engineer Torkos and the company officer were ejected from the apparatus. Fire Engineer Torkos was ejected through the driver's door or the windshield. He was run over by the apparatus, trapped under the vehicle's rear wheels, and died at the scene. Firefighters were unable to remove Fire Engineer Torkos until a large tow truck arrived at the scene. Law enforcement reports indicate that the SUV disregarded the flashing traffic control light at the intersection and the warning lights on the apparatus. The SUV was estimated to have been traveling approximately 80 miles-per-hour at the time of the impact. The engine's speed was estimated at 15 to 30 miles-per-hour. The other three firefighters on the engine were injured. The driver of the SUV died in the crash and 3 passengers in the SUV were injured. The cause of the structure fire was found to be arson.
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Joseph Torkos was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

City of Detroit Fire Department
250 W Larned St.
Detroit, Michigan 48226

Chief: Executive Fire Commissioner Tyrone Scott

Age: 47
Rank: Fire Engineer Operator
Classification: Career
Incident date: February 7, 2007 18:30
Date of death: February 7, 2007
Cause of death: Vehicle Collision - Includes Aircraft
Nature of death: Trauma
Activity type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: Responding
Fixed property use: Residential

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Honoring line-of-duty deaths in 2019