Firefighter Andrew ‘Drew’ Price remembered for a life ‘worth emulating’

Jordan Price kisses his mother, Rochelle Price, on the head after the funeral for Chicago Fire Department firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price. Price’s funeral was held Monday at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

As Truck 44 drove through the streets of Lincoln Park, children would wave and the engine’s lead driver, Andrew “Drew” Price, would respond with his signature shaka sign — a gesture for expressing thanks. 

For Price, gratitude was a way of life. 

“He gave a piece of himself to each and every person he encountered,” Jordan Price said at his brother’s funeral Monday morning. “Drew lived a life worth emulating, and as his lasting legacy, I hope he inspired you to live a life full of gratitude.”

Price, 39, died Nov. 13 battling an extra-alarm blaze in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue.

It was just after 5 a.m. and Price and his colleagues were preparing to head home after working overnight. 

A call came in of a fire in a four-story building, and Price and his crew swung into action, Capt. John Haring recalled Monday. 

Price quickly put his Truck 44 crew to work, “without hesitation” heading up to the roof of the building to open holes for ventilation. 

When they got to the roof, Price turned to a crew member and pointed out the sun rising over the skyline in the distance and said, “Mahalo brah, let’s get to work.”

“Drew always took time to see the best parts of life, the parts that many of us never notice,” Haring said. “Drew, you are very, very special.” 

Price fell through the shaft of a skylight and landed on the basement floor, officials said.

He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he died of “significant injuries,” according to Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.

Chicago Fire Department personnel salute as pallbearers for firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price carry his casket onto a fire engine. Colleagues remembered Price for his infectious personality and zest for life.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

On Monday morning, hundreds gathered at Navy Pier to express gratitude for the time they had with Price, who grew up in Indiana. His wife, Lara Price, stood alongside his mother, Rochelle, and his four siblings — a tight-knit crew known among friends as “The Fabulous Five.” 

Before the service, members of the Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department and suburban police and fire agencies gave Price his final salute. Nance-Holt noted it was one of the longest walk-throughs that she had ever seen.

“His personality and zest for life was infectious, his impact on his fellow brothers and sisters will live forever,” Nance-Holt said. “What I know about Drew is he brought people together. He brought different races, different classes, and different people together. He cared … he made an impact on all of our lives.” 

Members of Andrew “Drew” Price’s Engine 55 crew on Monday. Capt. John Haring is standing and showing the shaka sign at left.


Price joined the fire department in 2009 and spent the past decade at Engine 55, working his way up to lead driver of Truck 44. He was also an instructor at the academy. 

Engine 55 crew members described Price as genuine, big-hearted and hard-working. He was always the first to the firehouse in the morning, always looking out for others and checking in after a long day. 

He had a way of making everyone around him happier, fellow members said, and was the ultimate jokester, often hiding under the beds of coworkers, waiting to jump out and scare them. 

Anytime you saw Price, even if it was just for a couple of minutes, “(he’d) text as soon as he got in the car how great it was to see you,” his close friend and fellow firefighter Dustin Johnson said. 

Price adopted the saying “mahalo,” a Hawaiian expression of thanks and gratitude, during a solo trip to Hawaii. 

Mahalo became a signature phrase and the shaka sign his go-to greeting or pose.

Price’s battalion chief, Patrick Gallagher, admitted that at first he did not understand the shaka or “hang-loose” sign.

“To be honest, my simple mind went to what part of Indiana are Hawaiians living in, but I finally looked it up,” Gallagher said. “It’s a symbol of gratitude or thank you. The shaka is rarely if ever used in a sarcastic manner. It’s kept sincere and pure, just as it should be. Sincere and pure — to me that’s who Drew was.”

Price is the fourth Chicago Fire Department member to die in the line of duty this year. 

Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt hands a folded Chicago flag to firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price’s wife, Lara Price. Price died Nov. 13 while battling a fire in Lincoln Park.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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