Monday, April 13, 2009

Dual funeral service to be held Thursday for HFD veteran, rookie

We have lost two of Houstons finest, and they will be missed. I guess we don't often think of the danger these brave men and women face every time they go out on a fire call, most just see their smiling faces standing on corners on weekends with their boot out collecting donations to help others. My hat is off to the men and women of the Houston Fire Department and the firemen around the U.S.
10:31 AM CDT on Monday, April 13, 2009

By Rosa Flores & Kevin Peters / 11 News

Two Houston firefighters killed in house fire
April 12, 2009 View larger E-mail Clip More Video HOUSTON—Investigators were working Monday to determine what went wrong in a southeast Houston house fire that killed two Houston firefighters early Easter morning.

They will look at everything from equipment and wind speed to the location of the victims' bodies to determine what went wrong, according to HFD Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan.

Captain James Harlow and Probationary Firefighter Damion Hobbs died at the scene of the blaze, which destroyed a one-story home on Oak Vista near Reveille.

Both Harlow and Hobbs worked at Fire Station 26.

A dual funeral service will be held for the pair Thursday at 10 a.m. at Grace Community Church.

Harlow, 50, was hired by the HFD in August 1979 and had been a Captain at Fire Station 26 since 2004. Hobbs, a 29-year-old Iraq war veteran, graduated from the HFD Val Jahnke Training Facility on March 3, 2009, and began his first assignment on March 7.

Capt. James Harlow and Probationary Firefighter Damion Hobbs
“It was sad night and it’s a sad day for the Houston Fire Department,” Flanagan said. “The lives of both the family in the home and firefighters have been touched, and the lives of the citizens of Houston as well.”

Witnesses said the crews arrived at the burning home just before midnight.

The elderly couple who lived there managed to escape unharmed, but fire crews rushed inside the home to make sure no one else was in need of assistance.

Neighbors said the fire appeared to be dying down when the firefighters were inside, but then flames suddenly shot through the roof and erupted sideways through the house.

The firefighters retreated from the home, but Harlow and Hobbs failed to answer roll call.

Their bodies were found between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Rescue workers attempted CPR, but they were unable to revive the men.

Mourners left flowers in front of the charred home Monday morning.

“I greatly appreciate what they do,” neighbor Rosio Hernandez said. “They sacrifice without thinking about themselves.”

Outside Fire Station 26, a black band – the universal symbol for first responders in mourning – was draped across the main sign, and the flags were lowered.

Mayor Bill White said firefighters understand the inherent risks of helping others.

“There’s no such thing as a routine fire. The forces of nature are overwhelming, and it’s just a tragic loss for all of us,” White said.

The families of Harlow and Hobbs are getting support from members of two firefighters unions.

“Please keep the Harlow and Hobbs families, as well as the men and women of Station 26 and the city’s fire department, in your thoughts and prayers," said Jeffrey Caynon, President of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Donations are being taken by the Last Alarm Club of Houston and the 100 Club of Houston.

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