HFD Line-Of-Duty-Deaths (LODD) in Fires Since 2000

TThe four HFD firefighters killed on May 31, 2013 were the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Line-Of-Duty Deaths (LODDs) due to firefighting injuries experienced since 2000. They also represent the 65th, 66th, 67th, and 68th deaths in HFD history (since it became a career department in 1895), a total which does include a District Chief of the Houston Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) killed in 1996 while operating at a house fire as a crew-member of Engine 25.

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:08 hours, 6855 Southwest Freeway, in District 68, 5-alarms
Captain Matthew Renaud & Engineer/Operator Robert Bebee, both on Engine 51-A, and Firefighter Robert Garner & Firefighter (Prob.) Anne Sullivan, both on Engine 68-A, died in a southwest Houston motel restaurant fire after taking hose lines inside the large, tile-roofed structure. A huge section of the heavy roof collapsed trapping all four as well as Garner and Sullivan's Captain William Dowling, who was rescued with critical injuries. More than a dozen other firefighters were sent to the hospital with injuries received attempting to rescue the initial five trapped.

Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 00:14 hours, 7811 Oak Vista, in District 26, 2-alarms
Captain James Harlow & Firefighter Damion Hobbs, both on Engine 26-B, died in a southeast Houston house fire after taking an attack hose line inside the large, one-story, ranch-style structure. The house soon became fully engulfed and the incident commander ordered all firefighters out of the building. When a roll call was taken, all but Harlow and Hobbs had made it out safely.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 at 06:00 hours, 8500 Brandon, in District 46, 2-alarms
Captain Grady Burke, on Engine 46-B, was killed fighting a fire in a vacant one-story house on the city's south side when a large portion of the roof and ceiling fell on him, trapping him beneath burning debris. Neighbors had complained for months that the house had been used as a drug den.

Sunday, April 4, 2004 at 06:03 hours, 7610 Kempwood, in District 5, 2-alarms
Firefighter Kevin Kulow, on Engine 50-A, was killed taking a hose line inside a night club fire in northwest Houston. The interior quickly became fully involved trapping Kulow and severely burning his company officer. The fire had been deliberately set by a bar patron.

Saturday, October 13, 2001 at 04:48 hours, 5110 San Felipe, in District 28, 6-alarms
Captain Jay Jahnke, on Engine 2-B, died in a Tanglewood residential high-rise fire when he became separated from other firefighters in zero visibility in an elevator lobby on the fire floor. Another company officer and two firefighters barely made it to the safety of a stairwell. A resident of the burning apartment was also killed.

Monday, February 14, 2000 at 04:33 hours, 12,602 Bissonnet, in District 10 (now 68), 3-alarms
Firefighter Lewis Mayo & Firefighter Kim Smith, both on Engine 76-A, were killed when a large portion of ceiling and roof collapsed around them shortly after they entered a burning fast-food restaurant in far southwest Houston.

Until the May 31, 2013 fire, there were several common threads to the earlier deaths. All firefighters killed in these earlier incidents were on first-arriving engine companies at fires occurring between the hours of midnight and 6:30 AM and were engaged in the initial stages of firefighting (within the first 10-15 minutes of arrival). Rapid and catastrophic changes in the volume of fire (as with flashover) and/or the integrity of the structures contributed directly to the deaths in each case. However, the only different factor with the 2013 deaths was that the time of day was later (Noon) and the first-in and second-in companies experienced loss of life.