Houston's Line of Duty Firefighters
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John Benjamin “Red” Adams  

 
Born:  February 25, 1899, in Lola, Texas

Died:  March 7, 1948, at age 49

29TH HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  January 22, 1941

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 18

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section 24, Plot 345, Space 7

John Adams died of a heart attack at the scene of a house fire at 2840 Lidstone Street near Old Spanish Trail. His crew found him on the ground next to Engine 18. Having suffered a heart attack, attempts by the Harris County Emergency Corps to revive him were unsuccessful. A physician who lived in the neighborhood pronounced him deceased.


Steve Charlie Baranowski
 

Born:  July 9, 1907, in Chappell Hill, Texas
Died:  February 3, 1969, at age 61
46th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  December 11, 1941
Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 37
Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Westheimer, Section 502, Plot 168, Space 2

Captain Baranowski, a 28 year veteran, died of a heart attack at the scene of a house fire at 3931 Underwood Street and Stella Link Road. Captain Baranowski and his crew were on the roof pulling off shingles when he became unconscious. His crew attempted to save him with a new life saving technique called “CPR”. He was transported to Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced on arrival.


Dwight  Wayne “Bebe” Bazile
 
Born:  June 14, 1958, in Houston, Texas

Died:  February 21, 2015, at age 56
69
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  October 24, 1977, Class 77A

Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 46 “D” Shift

Buried:  Brookside Memorial Park Cemetery, Section 52, Lot HE 8

Captain Bazile, a 37 year veteran, died after fighting a duplex fire at 6335 England Street at Cosby Street. He suffered a cardiac arrest and was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital where two days later he lost his fight for life.

Captain Bazile was a founding member of the Houston Black Fire Fighters’ Associatio
n.


Robert   Ryan “Bobby” Bebee

Born:  January 14, 1972, in Corpus Christi, Texas

Died:  May 31, 2013, at age 41
66th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  June 20, 2002, Class 7 2001

Assignment:  Engineer-Operator-Fire House No. 51 “A” Shift

Buried:  South Park Cemetery, Section A, Lot 29, Space 2

Bobby Bebee, died along with Matt Renaud, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan while fighting a fire at the Southwest Inn, 6855 Southwest Freeway at Hornwood Drive. The fire started in the Bhojan Indian Restaurant, which was in the front of the motel complex. Just 15 minutes after crews arrived, the roof collapsed, trapping five firefighters. Before the rescuers were able to reach the firefighters, a second ceiling collapsed, trapping all of the rescuers. They were able to escape the collapse along with Captain Dowling, one of the five trapped firefighters.  

Bobby’s compassion and commitment to the community extended well beyond the fire service through his work helping homeless citizens and animals.


George LaSalle Bishop

 
Born:  April 4, 1884, in Houston, Texas

Died:  March 1, 1926, at age 41
14
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  1916

Assignment:  Captain-Engine Company No. 4

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section J, Plot 128, Space 2

On Sunday, February 28, 1926, Captain Bishop’s crew responded to a two story vacant house fire at 2707 Grant Street near Westheimer Road. On arrival the structure was heavily involved. Captain Bishop led his crew up the rear outside staircase. Once they reached the second floor porch, the chimney collapsed and fell on to the porch. The impact ripped the porch away from the house, throwing the men to the ground. A large number of bricks and debris fell on Captain Bishop, severely injuring him.

 

Captain Bishop was transported to Jefferson Davis Hospital where he died at 7:20am the following morning.


John Andrew “Bob” Boyd


Born:  November 3, 1870, in Galveston, Texas

Died:  August 4, 1923, at age 52
12
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  September 21, 1895

Assignment:  First Assistant Chief-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Holy Cross Cemetery, Section H, Plot 71, Space 6

John Boyd died when Chemical Truck 1 responded to a reported house fire at Schrimpf Alley (Where Clayton Homes, Runnels Street and East Drive, sits now). The apparatus was attempting to avoid a collision with a passenger car and struck a telephone pole at the intersection of Congress Street and Hamilton Street. Chief Boyd died instantly.

Chief Boyd began his career as a volunteer with Stonewall Hose Company No. 3    as one of the company’s paid drivers. He held this position from 1892 to 1895. In September 1895 he became one of the first paid Houston Firefighters.

He left the fire service in 1919 to serve as a trainman on the Southern Pacific Railroad. In May of 1923, Fire Chief Cornelius “Roxy” Ollre became angry with the current two Assistant Chiefs and demoted them. He contacted Bob Boyd and convinced him to return to his previously held rank of First Assistant Chief.


 
Lemuel  Delray "DJ" Bruce
                                         
Born:  August 23, 1976, in Houston, Texas

Died:  October 16, 2020 at age 44
 76
th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Houston Fire Department:  April 1, 2004, Class 1 2003  
Assignment:  Investigator-Arson Division
Buried:  Klein Memorial Park, Magnolia, Texas, Section A, Lot 471, Space 2

DJ grew up in north Houston, was a dedicated Boy Scout, and graduated from Klein Oak High School in 1995. DJ then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served honorably for five years and became one of the youngest Black Hawk helicopter crew chiefs in the history of the Corps. He later served in the Army National Guard.

Investigator Bruce was conducting surveillance during an arson investigation in the 2100 block of W. 18th Street around 0330 hours when he got into a confrontation with a suspect where they exchanged gunfire. The suspect died at the scene. About an hour later, Investigator Bruce shot three times, died from his injuries at Memorial Hermann Hospital. DJ’s squad was investigation a string of recent arsons in the area.

He is the Houston Fire Department's first Arson Investigator to die in the line of duty.


 Grady Don Burke 
 
Born:  January 31, 1966, in Houston, Texas

Died:  February 19, 2005, at age 39
59
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  March 3, 1993, Class 93B

Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 46 “B” Shift

Buried:  Forest Park East Cemetery, Webster, Texas, Section 216B, Lot 4, Space 2

Captain Burke, a 12 year veteran, died while fighting a vacant house fire at 8510 Brandon Street near Bellfort Avenue. The vacant house was entered by a vagrant  who started a fire for heat and illumination while he was doing drugs. When the fire got out of control, he exited the house and boarded a Metro Bus. The roof collapsed almost immediately as Captain Burke and his crew entered the structure. Two crew members narrowly escaped through a window. Six firefighters were injured and transported to Hermann Hospital. The man that started the fire was   caught and pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

 

Before becoming a member of the Houston Fire Department, Grady was in the ranks of the Texas City Fire Department for four years.

In 2004 Grady was awarded the Unit Valor award along with his crew for saving an 80 year old woman from her burning apartment.


Frank Catino
 

Born:  February 10, 1892, on a boat from Sicily, Italy

Died:  January 7, 1954, at age 61
37th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  May 15, 1911

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Gethsemane 55, Plot 1232, Space 11

Frank was born Angelo Cortimeglia. When he joined the department at age 19, Fire Chief Reginald “Kid” Ollre decided that his name was too hard for anyone to pronounce, he changed his name to Frank Catino.


Frank, a 42 year veteran died while responding to an alarm transmitted by the fire alarm box at Gable Street and MKT Railroad. Ladder 1 collided with a passenger car at Preston Street and Crawford Street. The car was occupied by two 19 year old men who were being chased by the police, both died at the scene. Four members of the crew were sent to Jefferson Davis Hospital and were treated and released. Frank was transported to St. Joseph Hospital where he was pronounced on arrival.


On July 29, 1953 Frank was injured at the same intersection, while responding to an alarm from the same fire alarm box, Gable Street and MKT Railroad. This is where Joseph Solito and Fidel Chabolla died. The same building on the corner, the Southern Electric Supply Company at 1605 Preston Street was damaged in both accidents. The
“Houston Chronicle” dubbed it the “Death Corner”. 


Fidel Chabolla


Born:  April 24, 1918, in Moore, Texas

Died:  July 29, 1953, at age 35

35th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  October 4, 1951

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Gethsemane 54, Plot 847, Space 5

Fidel Chabolla, died with Joe Solito, in a collision between Engine 8 and Ladder 1. The fire alarm box at Gable Street and MKT Railroad transmitted an alarm. Events led to the collision of these two apparatus at the intersection of Preston Street and Crawford Street. Engine 10 was the first due company; they were on another assignment and were replaced by Engine 8. Ladder 1 had trouble starting and was delayed leaving quarters. This put both trucks in the intersection at the same time. Seven firefighters were injured in the accident. Chabolla was transported to Jefferson Davis Hospital where efforts to save him failed.


Fidel had recently returned from a 3 month leave of absence.  He and his war-time bride visited her native France.

This is the same intersection where Frank Catino died five months later on January 7, 1954. The same building on the corner, the Southern Electric Supply Company at 1605 Preston Street was damaged in both accidents.  The “
Houston Chronicle” dubbed it the “Death Corner”.


Doyle Hubert "Spud" Chandler, Jr.  


Born:  December 13, 1932, in Rusk, Texas

Died:  November 9, 1959, at age 26

42nd HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  July 1, 1958

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 19

Buried:  Lyles-Sanders Cemetery, Cushing, Texas, Plot 325

 D.H. and his crew responded to the Hess Terminal on Federal Road for a fire on board the “Amoco Virginia”. The 150,000-gallon tanker was in the process of loading a cargo of aviation fuel. A worker loading the ship did not realize there was a small hole in the hose leaking fuel into the water below. A lantern on a
passing tugboat ignited the fuel, causing an explosion and fire that took 16 hours and 500 firefighters to control. Seven men on the ship perished and 40 workers, including several  firefighters, were injured.

During the cleanup process, the mangled deck was coated with firefighting foam, Chandler fell through a large gaping hole in the deck and drowned in gasoline in the ship’s hold. He was a diver in the United States Navy but did not survive due to the lack of buoyancy of the gasoline. 


Joseph Earl “Bull” Connor


Born:  April 18, 1900, in Houston, Texas

Died:  January 31, 1951, at age 50

32nd HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  June 16, 1924

Assignment:  Driver-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Gethsemane 55, Plot 257, Space 1

Joseph Connor, a 27 year veteran, suffered a heart attack while fighting a multiple alarm fire on January 31, 1951. Connor was driving Water Tower 1, and had finished getting the kinks out of the supply hoses when he fell against the apparatus.  He was transported to Jefferson Davis Hospital where he was pronounced on arrival.

 

The fire involved the Alaskan Fur Factory at 600 Main Street and Texas Avenue and two other business, the National Shirt Shop and Shaw’s Jewelry Store. All three businesses were heavily damaged.

 

This fire was especially difficult due to the freezing, icy weather which kept the smoke close to the ground.
 

The fire was also responsible for the death of Captain Templet.


Doninic Joseph “Don” Contorno
 

Born:  March 12, 1911, in Houston, Texas

Died:  May 21, 1962, at age 51

44th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  December 16, 1941

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 37

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Gethsemane 55, Plot 1099, Space 4

Don Contorno, a 21 year veteran, suffered a massive heart attack while fighting a two alarm fire at the Wanda Petroleum Company on Almeda Genoa Road. The combination of the heat of the day and the physical excretion proved to be too much for Don’s heart.

 

He was transported to St. Joseph Hospital where the doctors knew he was in serious condition. They were in disbelief how the heart attack did not kill him instantly. Don had a wife and a young son at home and a very strong will to live that kept him alive for 19 days.


Thomas Norwood "Tom" Cooper

 

Born:  February 17, 1959, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Died:  September 23, 1982, at age 23

51st HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  February 8, 1982, Class 82A

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 1 “C” Shift
Buried:  Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Section 2, Plot 69, Space 6

Thomas Cooper was critically injured after falling off the tailboard of Engine 1 while responding to a trash fire. Cooper was training with his crew on different types hose lays when they were dispatched. The rolled hoses used in the drill were placed on the tailboard where he was riding. As Engine 1 turned the corner at Hamilton Street and Congress Avenue, one of the rolled hoses fell off the back of the apparatus. Tom fell off the tailboard while trying to stop the falling hose and hit his head on the curb. The driver and captain did not know he had fallen. A city electrician saw the accident and stopped to help and report the accident. Ambulance 1101 transported him to Hermann Hospital where he died two days later.


Harold Albert Denny

Born:  September 6, 1905, in Houston, Texas

Died:  May 1, 1924, at age 18
13
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  1924

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 9

Buried:  Washington Cemetery (Glenwood Cemetery), Section D, Lot 44, Space 4

Harold Denny, very new to the department, died when Engine 9 collided with a streetcar while responding to a fire at the Blue Front Boarding House located at  404½ Milam Street and Preston Street. At the time of the alarm, Harold was not on duty but was bringing bed sheets to his brother-in-law, John S. Little Sr. who was the Captain at Fire House No. 9. When the fire call came in, he responded with the crew. The driver of Engine 9 used the North Main Via Duct and as they exited the north end, a street car hit them, Denny died instantly, one crew member was injured.

 

Harold’s brother-in-law died in the Line of Duty 5 years after his death. Captain Little died on July 11, 1929.


Thomas William "Bill" Dillion

 Born:  March 25, 1962, in Houston, Texas

Died:  March 14, 2012, at age 49
63rd HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  June 5, 1989, Class 89C

Assignment:  Senior Captain-Fire House No. 69 “B” Shift

Buried:  Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Morning Tide, Section 303, Lot 16, Space 5

Senior Captain Dillion, a 23 year veteran, suffered a heart attack at a fire in the  Jadestone Apartments, 7520 Cook Road near Winding Passage Street. After the fire was under control, he began experiencing chest pains and collapsed.  Firefighters performed CPR and he was transported to West Houston Medical Center where efforts to revive him failed. At the time of the incident he was working at Fire House 76.

 

Harry Dodd


Born:  November 17, 1883, in Kinney, Texas

Died:  July 26, 1923, at age 39
11
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  January 1, 1921

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Central Fire Station
Buried:  Hempstead Cemetery, Hempstead, Texas, Located in the Dodd Family Plot

Harry Dodd died when Hook and Ladder 1 responded to a house fire at 1315 Shaw Street and Andrews Street. The fire apparatus was involved in an accident at the intersection of Dallas Street and Milam Street. A doctor, who was rushing to take care of a patient, entered the intersection at the same time as Hook and Ladder 1. The two vehicles hit with such force that the ladder truck was pushed into the Chapman Street Trolley that was stopped waiting for the fire truck to clear the intersection. Several his crew members and four civilians were injured in the collision. Harry died at the scene.


Vernon John Dorsett

 
Born:  November 15, 1902, in Nacogdoches, Texas

Died:  January 21, 1949, at age 46

30th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  December 5, 1919

Assignment:  Assistant Chief-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Rosewood Cemetery, Section 20, Plot 81, Space 6

Chief Vernon Dorsett, a 30 year veteran, died when his chief’s car collided with a passenger vehicle after being dispatched to a fire at the Hub Lumber Company, 5519 Lawndale Street and Hub Street. His car slid on wet pavement at the intersection of Harrisburg Boulevard at Linwood Street. The chief’s car collided with a passenger car carrying a mother, her 18 month old son and her 12 year old daughter, on their way to school. All three received minor cuts and bruises. Chief Dorsett died instantly. Chief Dorsett’s driver, Captain Walter Dudensing, was seriously injured.

Chief Dorsett’s daughter, Barbara was due to be married in Freeport that evening. Vernon was planning to get off duty early to drive her to her wedding. Barbara and her fiancé were married a two weeks later.                             


William  Ross “Iron Bill”Dowling
 
Born:  March 14, 1973, in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Died:  March 7, 2017, at age 43
71
st HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Houston Fire Department:  March 21, 2000, Class 1 2000

Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 68 “A” Shift
Buried:  Wellborn Cemetery, College Station, Texas, Plot DD 54

Bill Dowling was a man of courage and service to others. He graduated in 1993 from Klein Oak High School. Soon after, he joined the United States Marine Corps, only after convincing his recruiter that he would succeed as a member.  When he fulfilled his commitment to the Corps, he continued his quest to serve others as a member of the Houston Fire Department. 


On May 31, 2013 Captain Dowling was seriously injured while leading his crew during the Southwest Inn Fire. The fire started in the Bhojan Indian Restaurant, which was in the front of the motel complex. During the fire, the roof collapsed, trapping him and four crew members. Captain Dowling was the only firefighter rescued from the collapsed building.

He was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and fought to stay alive. During his fight for his life, he was given the nickname, “Iron Bill”, for his relentless efforts to heal and return home to his family. “Iron Bill” succumbed to his injuries almost four years later. Bill is survived by his soulmate Jacki, and his three children, Forrest, Faith and Foster.

 
Claud William Edmonds

Born:  September 25, 1894, in Scooba, Mississippi

Died:  August 19, 1926, at age 31
15
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  December 16, 1916

Assignment:  Captain-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section I, Plot 181, Space 2

Captain Edmonds, a ten year veteran, was training with his crew on Ladder 1, an 85 foot aerial. The exercise consisted of the crew climbing the ladder and descending the backside. As Captain Edmonds reached the top and was climbing over, the ladder began swaying from the wind and cracked below him and landed on the power lines for the trolley cars on Preston Street. Captain Edmonds, seriously injured, was taken to the St. Joseph Infirmary where he died a short time later.

Tom Powers, early into his career, was climbing the ladder just below Captain Edmonds. The ladder broke right above Tom, and he was not injured. He went on to serve the citizens of Houston for 50 years.
  

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