Houston's Line of Duty Firefighters
 
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Ruben Lopez

Born:  October 12, 1957, in Victoria, Texas

Died:  December 4, 1996, at age 39

1st  Houston Volunteer Fire Department Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  1987

Assignment:  HVFD District Chief-Engine 25

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section 12, Lot 385, Space 11

Ruben Lopez, a member of the Houston Volunteer Fire Department, died fighting a house fire at 4006 Roseneath Drive near South MacGregor Way. Upon arrival, Chief Lopez and the crew of Engine 25 were informed that there were still victims in the home. A flashover occurred during the search. Chief Lopez perished along with the 41 year old female occupant of the home. She re-entered the home thinking her 12 year old daughter was still inside.

 

Prior to his death he had received the organization’s Firefighter of the Year twice.

Chief Lopez is the only line of duty death in the history of the Houston Volunteer Fire Department.


James Edward “Jimmy” Lowth

Born:  June 26, 1923, in Houston, Texas

Died:  March 31, 1947, at age 22

28TH HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  January 1946

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 26

Buried:  Hollywood Cemetery, Section F, Plot 19, Space 2

James Lowth was seriously injured when Engine 26 was struck by a Port Terminal Railroad locomotive (steam powered) after being dispatched to a fire at the Eastern States Refinery. Two factors combined to cause this accident: The warning signal at the railroad crossing was not working, the engineer, seated on the opposite side of the locomotive, was unable to see Engine 26 attempting to cross the tracks. The accident occurred at 1000 Broadway Street at Lawndale Street.

Four of his crew members, Earl McWilliams, Wilson Snow, J. B. Martin, and Captain Mike Lathrop, all seriously injured, were transported to St. Joseph Hospital. Lowth was also transported to St. Joseph Hospital where he died from his injuries.

 

Jimmy survived WWII and just returned home from serving three years and five months in the United States Navy. He died his first night back on duty since his wedding and honeymoon in Galveston, two weeks prior.

 

 Leroy Pena Lucio

Born:  June 5, 1958, in San Antonio, Texas

Died:  July 20, 2020 at age 62
73rd HFD
Line of Duty Death
Entered the Houston Fire Department:  December 10, 1990, Fast Track Class
Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 103 “D” Shift
Buried:  Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery, 1255 Old Corpus Christi Road,
Far Left side of the cemetery

Captain Leroy Lucio, a 29 year veteran lost his life due to the COVID-19 Virus. He had been battling the virus in the ICU of Life Care Hospitals of San Antonio three weeks prior to his death. He is the first Houston Firefighter to die from COVID-19.  


Captain Lucio is the 60th COVID-19 related Firefighter Line of Duty Death for 2020, according to the statistics kept by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. On the day he died there were 49,123 new cases of COVID-19 according to the worldometers.info/coronavirus web site.


Jackie Dunham Ludwick

Born:  August 17, 1933, in Austin, Texas

Died:  February 4, 1977, at age 43

50TH HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  July 16, 1956
Assignment:  Senior Captain-Fire House No. 7 “B” Shift

Buried:  Woodlawn Cemetery, Section 8, Plot 154, Space 3A

Captain Ludwick was a well respected officer in the department. Months before his death he saved the lives of several firefighters at St. Joseph Hospital. Working to extinguish a deep seated fire in the laundry duct system, Captain Ludwick knew something was wrong and began ordering firefighters out of the vent system when a flashover occurred. Several firefighters were injured, but his actions saved their lives.

Jackie Ludwick, a 21 year veteran, suffered a fatal heart attack while fighting a fire at 3700 Wheeler Avenue near Scott Street. He was transported to Hermann Hospital where efforts to save him failed. 

 
Steven Clyde "Steve" Mayfield

Born:  October 5, 1951, in Pasadena, Texas

Died:  December 2, 1998, at age 47
54
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  March 31, 1975, Class 75A

Assignment:  Firefighter-Crash Rescue Station No. 92 “B” Shift

Buried:  Resthaven Cemetery, Section 7, Lot 587, Space 12

Steven Mayfield, a 23 year veteran, died from a heart attack while participating in a live burn at the DFW Airport in Dallas, Texas. The burn was a part of the annual recertification process required of all Airport Rescue Firefighters (ARF).

 

Mayfield, a certified Airport Rescue Firefighter (ARF) for eight years, had previously spent 12 years as a Paramedic. He was assigned as a paramedic on Medic 92, which makes calls at the terminals at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.   


 Lewis Evan Mayo III

 

Born:  December 13, 1955, in Cocoa, Florida

Died:  February 14, 2000-Valentine’s Day, at age 44
56
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  June 29, 1981, Class 81C

Assignment:  Firefighter-Fire House No. 76 “A” Shift

Buried:  Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Section 219, Lot 8, Space 2

Lewis Mayo died with his crew member Kim Smith. At 0433 hours Engine 76 responded to a fire in a McDonald’s Restaurant, 12602 Bissonnet Street and Dairy View Lane, less than a mile from their quarters. Upon arrival, Engine 76 reported that fire was coming from the roof of the restaurant. The crew of Engine 76 entered the building and attempted to get the hose line to the back of the restaurant. The section of the roof that contained the air condition units collapsed, trapping and injuring Lewis. Kim, also trapped, was able to free herself and head toward the back door of the building. Lewis was rescued and transported to Hermann Hospital where efforts to save him failed.

Kim was found deceased six feet from the back door. The fire was arson, started by four males attempting to break into the office safe. When they were unable to open the safe, they set the office on fire. All four men were convicted of multiple crimes with sentences ranging from 2 to 35 years.
  


Willis Neal “Bardoil” McWhorter

Born:  April 17, 1927, in Madisonville, Texas

Died:  November 6, 1959, at age 32

41st HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  June 1, 1953

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 30

Buried:  Resthaven Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Plot 72, Space 1

Willis McWhorter died in an accident that claimed the life of his fellow crew member, Charles Jedlicka and injured two firefighters. McWhorter died at the scene. Engine 30 was responding to a house fire on Airline Drive and Benbrook Street. The accident occurred at the intersection of Fulton Street and Berry Street. An approaching transport truck, carrying steel beams saw Engine 30, but was unable to stop due to its heavy load. The fire apparatus was broadsided, breaking it into several pieces.

 

 Frank William Medlenka


Born:  June 15, 1859, in Louisville, Kentucky

Died:  November 23, 1901, at age 42
2
nd HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  September 21, 1895

Assignment:  Driver-Washington No. 8

Buried:  Glenwood Cemetery, Old Strangers Rest, Space 320

Frank, the driver of horse-drawn Steamer 8, was responding to call received from Fire Alarm Box 315 at the corner of McKinney Street and Chartres Street. The fire apparatuses crossed street car tracks at the intersection of McKinney Street and Jackson Street where new tracks were under construction. Hose Wagon 8, leading the way, displaced planks covering the site causing Steamer 8 to overturn. Frank was crushed under the overturned steamer and was taken to St. Joseph Infirmary where he died later that night.


Frank entered the Houston Fire Department at age 36. His father owned one of the local newspapers, the
Herald, which later became the Houston Chronicle, where Frank worked as a pressman. He developed an allergy to the ink; his condition was called “The Printer’s Disease”. His doctor advised him, for his health, to change professions, which he did.

 

Frank was a member of the Volunteer Protection Hose Company No. 1 from 1883 to 1887 as the First Assistant. In September 1895 he became one of the first paid Houston Firefighters.

 

Frank’s name was never listed on the HFD’s line of duty roster. His great nephew, Ralph Stenzel Sr., discovered the 84 year old oversight. In January of 1985 the Houston Fire Department held a memorial ceremony at his gravesite in Glenwood Cemetery and officially added him to the line of duty roster.

 

 Charley Albert Middlekauf

 
Born:  February 7, 1888, in Canton, Illinois

Died:  March 10, 1953, at age 65

34th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  January 1, 1910

Assignment:  Assistant Chief-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section 24, Plot 124, Space 12S

Chief Middlekauf, a 43 year veteran, died of a heart attack on the scene of a fire at the Frederick Poultry and Egg Company, 1817 Center Street at Silver Street. One of his duties as Assistant Chief was directing firefighting efforts at multiple alarm fires. He had been commanding firefighters for some time when he fell to his knees and asked to be taken across the street to a neighbor’s porch where he collapsed. Ambulance crews were unable to save him and a physician on the scene pronounced him deceased.

When Charley entered the Houston Fire Department in 1910, the department was equipped with only horse-drawn fire apparatus.


   Robert Weir “Bobby” Milburn  

 
Born:  March 31, 1911, in Palestine, Texas

Died:  April 14, 1949, at age 38

31st HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  September 4, 1933

Assignment:  Driver-Fire House No. 7

Buried:  South Park Cemetery, Section J, Plot 227, Space 5

Bobby Milburn, the driver of Battalion Chief 7, collided with a pickup truck at the intersection of Fannin Street and McGowen Street. Fire House No. 7 received a signal from Fire Alarm Box 3423 at McGowen Street and Sauer Street. Engine 7 and Ladder 7 were following behind the chief’s car. The truck hit the car broadside so hard it pushed it far into the side street and upon going through the intersection, the firefighters did not see the accident. Chief H. H. “Bubba” Finn and the driver of the pickup were seriously injured. Bobby Milburn was transported to Jefferson Davis Hospital where he was pronounced on arrival.

 

The alarm was false. The crew of Fire House No. 7 was in the process of petitioning the city to have Box 3423 removed due the high number of false alarms it received.

 Barnett Cohen “Barney” Moffatt

Born:  October 10, 1858, in Houston, Texas

Died:  April 26, 1908, at age 49
4
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  September 21, 1895

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Engine Company No. 7

Buried:  Glenwood Cemetery, Section D, Plot 94, Space 1

Barney Moffatt died while fighting a fire at the Mercantile Grain Company, 1215 Hardy Street near Lyons Avenue. He was doing clean up with his Lieutenant, Lawrence Lazzio. They were working on the ground floor of the building, assigned to check for hot spots. The floor was overloaded and stacked to the ceiling with sacks of feed, which caused the floor to weaken and collapse into the cellar. Barney fell with the floor and perished; Lawrence was able to survive by grabbing one of the pipes in the ceiling.

Just prior to his death he had been off over a year after being injured in an accident while driving Hose Wagon 5. After recovering from his injuries, he was assigned to Fire House No. 7.

 

Moffatt worked as a volunteer with Stonewall Hose Company No. 3 for nine years. In September of 1895 he was hired as one the first paid Houston Fire Department’s firefighters.

 
Aaron Loyola O’Brien


Born:  September 15, 1906 in Texarkana, Texas

Died:  December 20, 1929, at age 23

21st HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  July 12, 1929

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 19

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section I, Plot 248, Space 4627

Aaron O’Brien, five months into his career, died along with Michael Ward when Engine 19 was dispatched to a house fire at Quitman Street and Clark Street. When crossing the double railroad tracks at Gregg Street, a short distance from Fire House No. 19, they were hit by a Southern Pacific Railroad locomotive. Buildings at the crossing obstructed the view of an oncoming train and the red lights and the
swinging arm at the crossing were not operating. Four crew members were injured and transported to local hospitals. Aaron died at the scene.
 


Patrick O’Hara
 
Born:  March 17, 1878, in Ireland

Died:  September 21, 1913, at age 35
8
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  1906

Assignment:  Lieutenant-Fire House No. 6

Buried:  Calvary Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio, Section 9, Lot 1207, Grave 2

Patrick O’Hara died responding to a signal transmitted from Fire Alarm Box 412, located in the 4th Ward, San Felipe Street and Hobson Street, where a small shack was burning. Engine 6 hit a hole in the street where the bricks were missing. O’Hara was thrown from the side of the engine and fell against a telegraph pole where he died instantly. The accident occurred at Sabine Street and Lubbock Street.

 

His body was put on a train by Westheimer Undertaking and sent to Cleveland, Ohio where his two sisters and brother lived.

 

Patrick, at age 23, immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island in 1901. Married his sweetheart Sarah Haggerty September 16, 1902. Petitioned to become a citizen of the United States in 1905 and moved to Houston, Texas to become a member of the Houston Fire Department in 1906.


Thomas Andrew “Tom” O’Leary

Born:  November 1860, in Newport, Wells, United Kingdom

Died:  December 24, 1908-Christmas Eve, at age 48
5
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  September 21, 1895

Assignment:  Fire Chief-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Glenwood Cemetery, Section West Avenue, Lot 343, Space 1 

Fire Chief Tom O’Leary died while responding to a railcar explosion at the Houston Belt Terminal Railroad switching yards. On Sunday November 22, 1908, two boxcars collided in the railyard. One of the cars containing fireworks caught fire and exploded, blowing the roof off. The chief led his crew into the boxcar, unaware that there where were still several large unexploded shells. When the remaining shells exploded, the blast injured the Fire Chief and five members of his crew. They were all transported to St. Joseph Infirmary. All the crew members survived: Chief O’Leary died from his injuries, 32 days later on Christmas Eve.


Harry Lloyd “Red” Oxford

Born:  July 3, 1895, in Dallas, Texas

Died:  July 3, 1929, at age 34

19th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  November 16, 1928

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 18

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section I, Plot 143, Section 2

Harry Oxford had been in the department less than a year when he died along with Captain Little and Edgar Grant when Engine 18 was dispatched to a house fire
at 2426 Wilshire Street at Telephone Road. The incident was after dark, the firefighters were distracted by a large glow in the sky from the house fire. As they approached the railroad crossing at Telephone Road near Lombardy Street, they did not see a Gulf Coast Line Railway locomotive pulling 53 cars entering the crossing at the same time. Engine 18 was broadsided. Harry was transported to St. Joseph Infirmary where he died the next day, his 34
th birthday. Two members of the crew were injured in the accident.

 

                                       Gerardo Isaias "Jerry" Pacheco                                      
 
Born:  January 4, 1970, in Monterrey, Mexico 

Died:  August 3, 2020 at age 50
74th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Houston Fire Department:  January 5, 2004, Class 26 2004
Assignment:  Firefighter-Fire House No. 101 “C” Shift
Buried:  Kline Memorial Park, Tomball, Texas, Section C, Lot 46, Space 2

Jerry Pacheco, a 17 year veteran lost his life due to the COVID-19 Virus. He had been battling the virus in the ICU at the CHI St. Luke’s Health Hospital in the Woodlands. He is the second Houston Firefighter to die from COVID-19.


Jerry is the 62nd COVID-19 related Firefighter Line of Duty Death for 2020, according to the statistics kept by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. On the day he died there were 48,282 new cases of COVID-19 according to the worldometers.info/coronavirus web site.


Tanner Graham Reed

Born:  October 28, 1981, in Stephenville, Texas

Died:  September 3, 2021 at age 39
77
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  December 1, 2003, Class 25

Assignment:  Engineer/Operator-Fire House No. 10 “B” Shift

Buried:  Glenn Cemetery, Tolar, Texas, Tanner's plot is in the back left corner of the
cemetery,
under a very large oak tree, next to his Dad, Charles Reed.

Tanner Reed, a 17 year veteran of HFD, lost his life to the COVID-19 Virus.  He is the fourth Houston Fire Department COVID-19 Line of Duty Death. Tanner is the eighth in the United States and Canada, according to the IAFF, to succumb to the COVID-19 Virus in 2021. The total Firefighter deaths as of July 1, 2022 is 90. 

 

Tanner and his family received an incredible amount of unwavering support from the nurses and staff at the HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress Hospital as well as his colleagues from the Houston Fire Department, who continue to be there for his family.    

 

Tanner was proud to call himself a Houston Firefighter and was considered one of the best Engine Operators in his area.  His skill and dedication to being the best at his job earned him the respect of all who worked with him; his actions on the fire ground helped save many lives and property over the years.  Tanner passed on his knowledge, respect for the job, and the right way to do it both on the fire ground and at the Fire House.  He was a mentor to many and his teachings made those around him better every day.  He served at Fire House 73 and Fire House 77 with his last assignment as an Engineer/Operator at Fire House 10.  

 

Lexi Kathleen Reed; Tanner’s daughter was everything to him.  She has his energy for life and just enough of his orneriness to run the world one day!  While Tanner loved the hustle of all the calls and the adrenaline each one brought from the Houston city firefighter life, he missed the space and quietness of the pastures back home in Bluff Dale, Texas and often took Lexi there to ensure she knew the value of country life.  He taught her to fish, hunt, and run the fields just as he did as a child.  He taught her life lessons that she will carry with her always.  Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day; unseen, unheard but always near, still loved, still missed, and very dear.  Tanner will never leave her side.      

 

Tanner has a very special bond with his dad, Charles and his daughter, Lexi; all 3 generations were born on the same day, October 28.                
                                                                                                                                                                                   Written by Hilary Stephans (Sister) and Firefighter John Rarden


Matthew Rena Renaud

 

Born:  July 2, 1977, in Houston, Texas

Died:  May 31, 2013, at age 35
67
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  October 30, 2001, Class 8 2001

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

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section 39, Lot BE (Bench Estate) 8, Space 1 Lower

Matt Renaud, perished along with Bobby Bebee, 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.


On April 27, 2013 Captain Renaud and two of his crew members, Firefighter Wally Hayes and Firefighter Joel Rincon received the Unit Meritorious Medal for rescuing an unconscious victim from a burning apartment in April 2012. 

Soon after his death he was posthumously promoted to the rank of Senior Captain.


Robert Munguia Reyes

 
Born:  August 30, 1952, in Houston, Texas

Died:  December 1, 1984, at age 32
53
th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  January 26, 1981, Class 81A

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 62 “A” Shift

Buried:  Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Section 11, Plot 42, Space 3B

The day of his death, Robert Reyes was assigned to work his shift at Fire House 15. Engine 15 responded to a car fire on Interstate 45. Before the crew arrived at the scene Robert fell to his death from the jump seat of Engine 15.

Reyes spent 10 years working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation before joining the Houston Fire Department. His son, Robert Reyes followed in his dad’s footsteps. He was 6 years old when his dad died and in 2007 he joined the ranks of the Houston Fire Department.


Lewis Washington “Moe” Richardson

Born:  January 18, 1916, in Groveton, Texas

Died:  February 3, 1973, at age 57

49th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  August 1, 1941

Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 7 “A” Shift

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section J, Plot 144, Space 5

Lewis Richardson perished as the result of a heart attack while fighting an intense apartment fire at 1400 Richmond Avenue near Yaupon Street. Captain Richardson and his crew were attacking the fire from inside one of the apartments units, when he emerged from the apartment complaining of chest pain. He collapsed on scene and transported to Ben Taub Hospital where attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.  

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