Police Officer Michael James Joyce

Police Officer Michael James Joyce

Chester City Police Department, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Monday, February 1, 1993

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Michael James Joyce

Police Officer Michael Joyce died as a result of complications from cancer he developed while securing the scene of the Wade Dump Fire. He had patrolled the site several times following the fire to prevent trespassers and looting.

He was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 1990 and died as a result of complications on February 1st, 1993.

Officer Joyce was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served in law enforcement for 15 years. Following city layoffs in 1981, he moved his family to Portland, Oregon, where he joined the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Portland Police Bureau. He is survived by his wife, and two children.

At 3:44 pm, members of the Chester Fire Department responded to 1 Flower Street for a fire at a rubber recycling facility directly below the Commodore Barry Bridge. It was unknown to first responders that more than 3,000,000 gallons of toxic chemical waste were being stored on the site. At least 230 first responders responded to the fire that took firefighters 10 hours to get under control. During the response, firefighters were driven back due to exploding 55-gallon drums. One warehouse was destroyed, and two other warehouses were damaged in the fire.

Investigators discovered more than 18,000 drums of toxic chemicals, tanker trucks leaking chemical waste into the ground, and ditches that had been dug to dump chemicals into the Delaware River.

In August 1980, the owner of the property was convicted of risking a catastrophe, failing to prevent a catastrophe, and for violating the Clean Water Act. He was fined $30,000 and sentenced to one to two years in the county prison.


  • Age 46
  • Tour 15 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Duty related illness
  • Incident Date Thursday, February 2, 1978
  • Weapon Toxic chemicals
  • Offender Sentenced to two years

fire, patrol, hazmat

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer Joyce,
On today, the 30th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just for your Community but for our Country as well when you served with the USMC. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!
A fellow LEO;former Marine

United States Border Patrol

February 1, 2023

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