A retired Houston Fire Captain who became a paraplegic while battling a deadly 2013 blaze -one that killed four of his co-workers- succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.
Captain “Iron Bill” Dowling died at the age of 43, the final casualty of an incident that left four dead, 13 injured and exposed massive pitfalls in HFD’s accountability, tactics and communications protocols.
“The men and women of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association mourn the loss of our brother Captain William “Iron Bill” Dowling,” the union said in a statement Tuesday night. “As we begin to reflect on Captain Dowling’s life, we remember why we call him ‘Iron Bill.’ The incredible strength and bravery he showed as he and his family rebuilt his life – and theirs – after his injuries inspired us all.”
The retired firefighter had moved to Colorado before being hospitalized for pneumonia and cellulitis- a hospital visit he would not check out of.
“At this time, we ask that you keep the Dowling family, the members of Fire Station 68, and the members of the Houston Fire Department in your thoughts and prayers,” the HFD Station 68 (Downling’s old unit) said. “Memorial service and other information will be provided as it becomes available.”
Dowling was involved in a building collapse that took his legs and trapped five firefighters inside. It took 40 minutes to rescue him, during which time he suffered the loss of two limbs, brain damage and internal wounds. His partners -Robert Bebee, Robert Garner, Matthew Renaud and Anne Sullivan- were all killed.
According to the Houston Chronicle, news of Dowling’s death has begun to spread online, prompting massive amounts of support from the Houston and fire communities.
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