Capt. Herbert Johnson, a 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department, died Friday night fighting a South Side blaze.
Family of fallen firefighter Capt. Herbert Johnson spoke publicly this afternoon, the day after his death fighting an extra-alarm blaze in Gage Park.

"He was always a hero to us, now he's a hero for our city," said brother-in-law Dan McMahon, standing outside the medical examiner's office surrounded by Johnson's widow and children.

McMahon said the 32-year veteran firefighter, promoted to captain just months ago, was doing what he loved. Johnson never wanted notoriety, rather he sought only to make Chicago safer.

In honor of Johnson, McMahon asked residents to make sure the smoke alarms in their homes are working, and to "give your kids a hug."
While McMahon spoke, about 15 friends and family stood with him, many with arms linked and some softly crying.
Friends and family remembered Johnson as a fun-loving guy who would try anything, including taking a sewing class because he wanted to sew his daughter’s first communion dress.

“He was in it with all these old ladies,” said Dan Burke, another brother-in-law.

Brother John Johnson said their own father made his brother a pair of crocheted boots when he was only a baby, and so Johnson took up the same idea when he was a father.

“You've got to know the Johnsons,” John Johnson said. “They’ll try anything, nothing will stop them, and they’re not afraid of anything.”

Herbert Johnson and his sister Julie even went to clown school together at one time.

“He didn’t care,” John said. “He would have tried anything.”

Their father worked for the city in the Streets and Sanitation Department, John Johnson said, and their grandfathers were Chicago police officers.

John Johnson said his brother always knew he wanted to be a firefighter.


Funeral: Visitation for Captain Johnson: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 @ St Rita High School, 7740 S Western from 3-9p. No word on a FD walk through.

Funeral Mass: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at St Rita High School @ 11a