Houston's Line of Duty Firefighters
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Woodrow Wilson Erwin

 Born:  March 2, 1914, in Palestine, Texas

Died:  February 24, 1954, at age 39

38th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  July 8, 1940

Assignment:  Chauffeur-Fire House No. 24

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section 31, Plot 518, Space 1

Woodrow Erwin died of a heart attack after fighting a house fire at 2705 Clay Street and Nagle Street. That day he was the Acting Captain, Engine 24 was dispatched to a fire that involved a small shack located in a junkyard. Immediately after the fire was extinguished, he complained of a sharp pain in his chest and asked to be taken to the hospital. On the way to Jefferson Davis Hospital, he asked the attendants to call his wife and have her meet him
at the hospital. He died just minutes before his wife’s arrival.

Lonnie Lauzette Franklin

Born:  November 14, 1929, in Houston, Texas

Died:  January 4, 1983, at age 53

52nd HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  August 5, 1950

Assignment:  District Chief-Fire House No. 7 “B” Shift

Buried:  Resthaven Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Section 7, Plot 78, Space 4

Chief Franklin died while responding to a house fire in the 2800 block of Dowling Street near Drew Street. The District Chief’s car was struck broadside by a pickup truck which had ran the stop sign at the intersection of Elgin Street and Hutchins Street. Engine 7 and Ladder 7 were seconds behind. The engine crew stopped to render aid while the ladder truck proceeded to the fire. Lonnie was transported  by Ambulance 25 to Hermann Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

The driver of the pick up truck was speeding because he was late for work.
He was found guilty of Negligent Homicide. 

The cause of the house fire was ruled arson.

Chief Franklin was survived by his childhood sweetheart Kathrine, and four children. Lonnie, Michael, Tommy and Judy.


Robert Herman “Bobby” Garner  IV

Born:  April 14, 1984, in Port Arthur, Texas

Died:  May 31, 2013, at age 29
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  October 18, 2010, Class 2010B

Assignment:  Firefighter-Fire House No. 68 “A” Shift

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Westheimer, Section 500, Lot 64, Space 10

Robert Garner, died along with Matt Renaud, Bobby Bebee 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 fifteen 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.

Before becoming a proud member of the Houston Fire Department, Robert served in the United States Air Force for six years as a SRA (Senior Airman). He completed two tours of duty in Iraq.   

Bobby was the beloved brother to his three sisters, Nicole, Liz, and Lauren.

Horace Oscar Gassoway

Born:  July 18, 1904, in Winnsboro, Texas

Died:  August 6, 1941, at age 37
27th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  September 1928

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 10

Buried:  Hollywood Cemetery, Section J, Plot 31, Space 1

The day that Horace Gassoway died, he was working at the Central Fire Station, assigned to Service Truck 1. His regular assignment was Fire House No. 10. The crew was dispatched to a fire in the Weingarten’s Grocery Store on Washington Avenue and Preston Street. They were involved in a collision with Engine 2, also dispatched to the same fire. The two fire trucks entered the intersection of Smith Street and Preston Street at the same time.
Four firefighters were injured, Horace died at the scene. 

Horace is survived by his wife of sixteen years, Velma Agnes and their two daughters Gloria Nell, age thirteen and Mary Lou, age eleven.


Robert Rutherford Glass

Born:  September 14, 1882, in Houston, Texas

Died:  December 1, 1913, at age 31
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  1902

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Central Fire Station
Buried:  Evergreen Cemetery, Section B2, Plot 21, Space 3


Robert Glass was the driver of Auto Chemical Engine No 1. He died while responding to a house fire in the 5
th Ward. While exiting the Central Fire Station, the apparatus collided with Car No. 119 of the Galveston-Houston Electric Railway. Car No. 119 was returning to their  roundhouse, which was nearby the Central Fire Station. Glass was transported to St. Joseph’s Infirmary with two of his crew members.
He succumbed to his injuries the next morning, the two crew members survived.

He is survived by his wife Delia and son James.

Robert was the Vice President of the City Fireman’s Union No. 9629,
  organized on March 5, 1902. He held that office from 1906 to 1908. The union was disbanded after Fire Chief O’Leary died in the line of duty in 1908. The new Fire Chief, Reginald “Kid” Ollre, was never in favor of an organized union.

Edgar Henry Grant Jr.

Born:  March 20, 1902, in Houston, Texas
Died:  July 2, 1929, at age 27
th HFD Line of Duty Death
Entered the Fire Department:  February 18, 1928
Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 18
Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Section C, Plot 109, Space 7

Edgar Grant, a six month veteran, died along with Captain Little and Harry Oxford 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 fifty three cars
entering the crossing at the same time. Engine 18 was broadsided, Grant died at the scene and two members of the crew were injured.

Daniel David "Danny" Groover

Born:  December 15, 1967, in Jacinto City, Texas

Died:  July 9, 2014, at age 46
th HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  February 15, 1993, Class 93B

Assignment:  Firefighter-Fire House No. 104 “C” Shift

Buried:  Houston National Cemetery, Section G4, Site 1145

Daniel Groover died while fighting a house fire at 1510 Mistletoe Lane near Redbud Lane in Houston’s Kingwood area. Inside the structure, he became separated from his crew and was found in cardiac arrest. He was transported to Kingwood Medical Center where he later died.


Daniel served five years in the United States Army as a medic. He had been a paramedic for the Houston Fire Department from April 9, 1997 to June 21, 2012. He was widely known for his compassion toward others that reached well beyond the Fire Department.


                                                                                                                James Arthur Harlow Sr.

Born:  May 18, 1958, in Beeville, Texas

Died:  April 12, 2009-Easter Sunday, at age 50
HFD Line of Duty Death

Entered the Fire Department:  December 27, 1979, Class 79D

Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 26 “B” Shift

 Buried: Grandview Memorial Park Cemetery, Garden of Prayer, Lot 584, Space 2

Captain Harlow, a thirty year veteran, died with his “Rookie” Firefighter Damion Hobbs in a house fire at 7811 Oak Vista near Poplar Street on Easter morning. Captain Harlow entered the structure with his crew to search for the occupants of the home. Wind driven fire conditions produced a rapid fire growth that forced Harlow and Hobbs to withdraw, they collapsed while attempting to exit.
They both were quickly found, however efforts to resuscitate failed.


A devoted husband, father and grandfather, James was a respectable and approachable captain. He had an open door policy and his crew members were always comfortable approaching him. He was a perpetual optimist. He always said in an East Texas accent, “Everything is going to be alright”. At his memorial service, his family was presented the Houston Fire Department’s Medal of Honor, posthumously.

H. A. “Ace” Harris
Born:  October 24, 1873, in Calvert, Texas
Died:  February 14, 1921-Valentine’s Day, at age 47
10th HFD Line of Duty
Entered the Fire Department:  November 1, 1920

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire Station No. 10

Buried:  Sunnyside Cemetery, Calvert, Texas, Left side from the front gate, four rows from the front fence.

Before Harris became a member of the Houston Fire Department, he was a member of the Dallas Fire Department for twelve years. When he moved to Houston, he
painted houses until he was hired by HFD. He had been a member for about three months when Engine 10 responded to a fire at the
Texas Lamp and Oil Company, 203 Baker and Cedar Street.

Because of the lack of water supply, the fire crews had to drag hose lines through a narrow alley to reach the burning building. Harris, along with the other crew members, entered the alley with two hose lines in order to gain access to the burning building. Meanwhile, another crew opened a door on the opposite end of the building. This created a back draft causing multiple barrels of denatured alcohol to explode, blowing out the wall bordering the alley, trapping Harris and seven other firefighters. Harris did not perish from the falling wall, the heavy lamp oil smoke suffocated him. 


Harris’ death was overlooked by the Houston Fire Department for 79 years until a scrapbook owned by Chief Grover Cleveland Adams was discovered with a Houston Press clipping dated February 15, 1921, verifying Harris’ line of duty death.

Truxton Joseph Hathaway Jr.

Born:  January 9, 1940, in Houston, Texas

Died:  October 19, 1971, at age 31
48th HFD Line of Duty

 Entered the Fire Department:  February 15, 1961

Assignment:  Fire Inspector-Fire Training Academy

Buried:  Forest Park Cemetery, Lawndale, Gethsemane 55, Plot 491, Space 8

Truxton Hathaway was a Fire Inspector temporarily assigned to the Fire Training Academy. When an 82 car Missouri Pacific Railroad
rain derailed near Mykawa Road, he went out to the scene to record the incident for future training.

Two tank cars containing vinyl chloride and butadiene, caught fire and exploded.  Forty minutes later a second blast occurred killing Truxton and injuring twenty seven firefighters, six members of the news media, one HPD officer, and two civilians. 

To this day, film footage recorded by the news media is used for training all around the country.

Truxton is survived by his wife of ten years, Marjorie Ann, and two children, Chris and Phillp, ages eight and six years old. Marjorie's dad,
Richard Henning also served with the Houston Fire Department.
  Truxton graduated from Aldine High School in 1959.


Rudolph Leon “Rudy” Hendricks

Born:  September 29, 1906, in Colorado City, Texas

Died:  June 22, 1929, at age 22
th HFD Line of Duty

Entered the Fire Department:  January 4, 1928

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 25

Buried:  Rosewood Cemetery, Section I, Lot 112, Space 4

Rudy Hendricks, with less than two years in the department, died while operating a hose line at a house fire at 3552 Reeves Street at Scott Street. A power line burned through at the house and fell, electrocuting him. He was transported to Houston Methodist Hospital but died before arrival.

He recently married his childhood sweetheart.


Damion  Jon  Hobbs

Born:  December 24, 1978, in Galveston, Texas

Died:  April 12, 2009-Easter Sunday, at age 30
th HFD Line of Duty

Entered the Fire Department:  March 3, 2009, Class 2008C

Assignment:  Firefighter-Fire House No. 26 “B” Shift

Buried:  South Park Cemetery, Garden of Eternal Love, Lot 53, Space 5

Damion Hobbs died along with Captain Harlow in a house fire at 7811 Oak Vista near Poplar Street on Easter morning. Engine 26 entered the structure to search for the occupants of the home.
Wind driven fire conditions produced a rapid fire growth that forced Harlow and Hobbs to withdraw, they collapsed while attempting to exit. They both were quickly found, however efforts to resuscitate failed.

Hobbs served two tours of duty in Iraq with the United States Army. He was at the Val Jahnke Training Facility as a member of Class 31 2004 when he was deployed the second time. Upon his return he became a member of Class 2008C and graduated March 3, 2009.

Claude Jackson Hopkins
Born:  January 20, 1932, in Bryan, Texas

Died:  June 30, 1962, at age 30

45th HFD Line of Duty
Entered the Fire Department:  November 1, 1956
Assignment:  Chauffeur-Fire House No. 2
Buried:  Willowhole Cemetery, North Zulch, Texas, Section C, Space 359

n Friday, June 29, 1962, Ladder 2 responded to a sprinkler alarm at the Bayou Products Company, 1209 Commerce Street near San Jacinto Street. The apparatus hit a transport truck carrying grain at the intersection of Preston Street and Louisiana Street. Four firefighters were transported to Jefferson Davis Hospital. Claude, severely injured, died the next day.

The alarm was false, a vagrant attempted to get a drink from a drain valve of the sprinkler system which set off the alarm.

He graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in Houston, Texas in 1950. Soon after high school, Claude joined the United States Navy on March 19, 1951. He received his discharge on March 15, 1955. He obtained the rank of Machinery Repairman Second Class.

He is survived by Delores, his wife of ten years and their two children,  Deborah Lynn and Kenneth Ray.

Jay Paul Jahnke

Born:  September 16, 1961, in Houston, Texas

Died:  October 13, 2001, at age 40
th HFD Line of Duty

Assignment:  Captain-Fire House No. 2 “B” Shift

Buried:  Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Section 212, Lot 138, Space 4D, Next to Claude, his Dad

At 0453 hours, Engine 2 responded to a report of a fire in the Four Leaf Towers, a high rise residential building at 5110 San Felipe Street and South Post Oak Lane. On arrival the firefighters received a report that the male occupant was still in the unit on the fifth floor. Upon entering the unit, they encountered moderate heat and heavy smoke, the fire had broken one of the windows. The initial search did not locate the resident, who was later found deceased. Two of the firefighters were running low on air and were sent to the stairwell. Captain Jahnke then decided that him and Senior Captain Robert Green from Ladder 28 should do the same. Upon exiting, the hose line did not clear the apartment’s self closing door, the door did not completely shut. Simultaneously, a cold front came through, the high winds pushed the smoke and fire out into the hall where the two captains were attempting to escape. Captain Jahnke became disoriented and followed the hose line in the direction of the fire. He transmitted a “Mayday” and was found a few minutes later. He was carried down and transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital where shortly after arrival he succumbed to his injuries.

Jay was a highly respected officer, who was part of the Houston Medical Strike Team‚ Swift Water Rescue‚ and HAZMAT Certified. He also served as the Chief Safety Officer with Cy-Creek Volunteer Fire Department

Charles Alphonse “Jed” Jedlicka 

Born:  September 27, 1922, in Cameron, Texas

Died:  November 17, 1959, at age 37

43rd HFD Line of Duty
Entered the Fire Department:  June 1, 1953

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Fire House No. 30

Buried:  Brookside Cemetery, Section 2, Plot 159, Space 1

Charles Jedlicka died after sustaining severe injuries in an accident that also claimed the life of Willis McWhorter and injured two other firefighters. 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 as an approaching transport truck loaded with 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.

Due to the severity of his injuries, he was transferred to Brooks Army Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio in a plane owned
by a local oil company. Eleven days later he succumbed to his injuries.

Jed, in 1940, at the of age eighteen he became a member of the United States Naval Reserves and served during World War II. His group protected cargo ships to keep them from being sunk by the enemy. In 1943, at the age of twenty one he returned to the United States and was discharged and returned home.

He is survived by his wife of twelve years, Helen and his two daughters, Vicki Layne, who was eight years old and
Malissa Ann was four months old at the time of their father’s death.

 Charles Benard Johnson

Born:  April 23, 1893 in Corsicana, Texas

Died:  October 4, 1918, at age 25 in France

Killed in Action United States Army
Entered the Fire Department:  1911

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana, Texas, Section 221, Equator Street, Plot 41

Let me start out with the fact that Charles Johnson is not an official Houston Fire Department Line of Duty Death. The details of his life and death were interesting and I wanted to share it with you all.

This fire fighter is listed on my website, www. houstonfirememorial.com as a deceased Houston Fire Fighter. The past year or so I have been going through the listings and trying to find more information on as many fire fighters as possible. I came across his listing on the web site, findagrave. com.

Charles Benard Johnson Jr. at age 18, left his hometown, Corsicana, to journey 184 miles to Houston, which would constitute a long way from home, especially at his young age. In 1911 he began his career as a Houston Fire Fighter. He served the City of Houston as a Pipe and Ladderman assigned to the Central Station, 519 San Jacinto and Texas Avenue. In 1916 he resigned from the Department and returned to his home in Corsicana. September 20, 1916, age 24, he enlisted in the United States Army. He completed his basic training and was sent to France to fight
against the German Army in the trenches during World War I as a member of Company D, 359th Infantry.

August 8, 1918 his unit was gassed (mustard gas) by the Germans. On October 4, 1918 he died in Base Hospital No. 46 after fifty seven days of fighting for his life. He was buried in Pozieres Memorial, Pozieres, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France, which is ninety four miles north of Paris. After the war ended, his body was returned to the United States. On November 11, 1920 (Armistice Day) a Military
burial service was held in the Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana, Texas. 

Charles went from one dangerous profession to another. As a Houston Fire Fighter, in the five years he was a member, Houston had many large fires including the Fifth Ward fire and the Stowers Building fire and lost four fire fighters in the line of duty. He left the department and volunteered to be a soldier in WWI. This conflict saw almost twenty million deaths (military and civilian) and sadly he was included in that total. I am proud to call this man a brother fire fighter.



 Clifford William Johnson

Born:  1878, in Houston, Texas

Died:  June 13, 1902, at age 24
rd HFD Line of Duty

Entered the Fire Department:  1899

Assignment:  Pipe and Ladderman-Central Fire Station

Buried:  Hollywood Cemetery, Mossy Dell, Plot 42, Space 6

Clifford Johnson, driver of the Fire Chief’s buggy died while responding to a fire at 1611 Franklin Street and Crawford Street. His assignment was to pick up Fire Chief “Jack” Arto at home to respond to the fire. He was traveling at a high rate of speed on Crawford Street, as he passed Washington No. 8, he ran into the rear of a slow moving buggy without taillights. The men at the fire house tried to warn the civilian driver, but were unsuccessful. Johnson was transported to St. Joseph's  Infirmary where he died the next day.

Cohnway Matthew Johnson

Born:  October 4, 1982, in Austin, Texas

Died:  May 4, 2009, at age 26
nd HFD Line of Duty

Entered the Fire Department:  April 20, 2009

Assignment:  Cadet-Val Jahnke Training Facility, Class 2009C

Buried:  Cook-Walden Capital Parks Cemetery, Pflugerville, Texas, Section H, Lot 1608, Space 3

Cohnway had known from a young age he wanted to be a firefighter. He was following in his Great Uncle’s footsteps, a Chief with Austin Fire Department.  Before being chosen to join the Houston Fire Department he served full time with two other departments, the Yoakum Fire Department and Travis County Emergency Services District No. 3. Oak Hill Fire Department, Austin, Texas. 

  worked part time for Travis County Emergency Services District No. 9, Westlake Fire Department, Austin, Texas. Cohnway also worked part time for Travis County Emergency Services District No. 12,  Manor,Texas

On the morning of April 29, 2009, Cadet Johnson collapsed during physical training and was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center. Five days later he lost his battle for life due to complications of hyperthermia and dehydration.

William Henry "Bill" Kersten

Born:  November 6, 1914, in Houston, Texas

Died:  December 18, 1954, at age 40
th HFD Line of Duty

Entered the Fire Department:  December 11, 1941

Assignment:  Chauffeur-Fire House No. 19

Buried:  Woodland Gardens of Memories Cemetery, Section 56, Plot 116, Space 3D

William Kersten, the driver of District Chief 19 was dispatched to a house fire at 7306 Bonham Street and Harbor Street. When entering the intersection of Lockwood Drive and Lyons Avenue the chief’s car collided with a Houston Transit Company Bus. His chief and three bus passengers were injured. Kersten was transported to Jefferson Davis Hospital where he did not survive his injuries.

He had five minutes left on his shift when the alarm was dispatched.

Bill was drafted into the United States Army Air Forces
 October 31, 1942.  He served his country during World War II. He was discharged from the military January 19, 1946.

He is survived by his wife of fifteen years, Elsie Elisabeth




Kevin Wayne Kulow 

Born:  November 2, 1971, in Bellville, Texas

Died:  April 4, 2004-Palm Sunday, at age 32
th HFD Line of Duty

Entered the Fire Department:  September 15, 2003, Class 23

Assignment:  Firefighter-Fire House No. 50 “A” Shift

Buried:  Sealy Public Cemetery, Sealy, Texas, Section 17, Lot 423B, Space B

Kevin Kulow started his work day just like all “Rookies”, a bit early. He arrived at the fire house and took off the gear of the “B” Shift firefighter he was relieving. Soon after that, at 5:55 AM, Engine 50 was dispatched to 7610 Kempwood Drive near Wirt Road for a truck fire involving hazardous chemicals. However, upon arrival they discovered a fire in the El Festival Ballroom, an after hours night club.

Civilians at the location reported that they were not sure everyone got out of the building safely. While searching for victims the fire intensified, the crew members were able to find their hose line and follow it to safety. While exiting the building they realized that Kevin did not get out with them. By that time the fire had burned through the ceiling and roof. Kevin was unable to find his way out of the building.

During the investigation it was determined that the arsonist had thrown several full one gallon plastic gasoline containers on to the roof. The fire, set because of a domestic dispute, was ruled arson. Three men and one woman were charged and convicted of the murder of Firefighter Kevin Kulow. The ring leader, Jeremy Robinson, a career criminal, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The other three received sentences ranging from three to forty years in prison.



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