Howard County Professional Fire Fighters - IAFF Local 2000

Houston Firefighter Succumbs to Injuries from 2013 Fire

Houston’s “Iron Bill” Succumbs to Injuries From Fatal 2013 Motel Fire Houston, TX Local 341 member Bill Dowling passed away on Tuesday, March 7, of complications from his line-of-duty injuries in the infamous 2013 Southwest Inn fire. Captain Bill Dowling was 43. On May 31, 2013, four of Houston’s bravest gave their lives trying to save others in what has been considered the worst tragedy to date involving the Houston Fire Department. Fire fighters Matthew Renaud, Robert Bebee, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan were killed in a massive blaze at the Southwest Inn off Highway 59. Thirteen other fire fighters were injured in the fire, including Dowling. Despite his injuries, Dowling was able to hit his Mayday button and was pulled out, but his injuries were so serious that doctors were not sure that he would make it through the night. Dowling sustained a brain injury that left him unable to verbally communicate and both legs were partially amputated. Bill Dowling’s courageous fight to survive after being severely injured in the fire earned him the nickname “Iron Bill.” “’Iron Bill’ Dowling is a shining example of what our profession stands for. His tremendous fight to recover gave us a glimpse of who he was as a loving husband, great father and a good fire fighter,” said General President Harold Schaitberger. “Bill lived a life of honor and will be remembered forever as he joins Matt Renaud, Robert Bebee, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan on the granite walls of our Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in Colorado Springs.” Bill and his wife had recently moved to Durango, Colorado, to take advantage of a sports recovery program and can be seen fishing and enjoying life in an in-depth interview with Houston’s KHOU. “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,” said Houston, TX Local 341 President Patrick “Marty” Lancton. “We also are grateful to our fire fighter brothers and sisters in Houston and around the world for the extraordinary assistance they provided to the Dowlings since 2013 – from medical equipment and other items to friendship, support and thoughts and prayers.” Dowling’s passing has seen an outpouring of tributes from fellow fire fighters to NFL players to local newscasters. “Bill was an amazing man and fire fighter and he was surrounded by love and family until the very end,” said 11th District Vice President Roy L. “Sandy” McGhee. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his extended family of fire fighter brothers and sisters.” Dowling leaves behind his wife, Jacki, and their three children, Forrest, Foster and Faith. Dowling’s son, Forrest, became a Marine in 2014 – following in his Dad’s footsteps. Captain Dowling’s memorial service has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, at 10:00 a.m., at Houston Baptist University (HBU), Morris Cultural Arts Center (Dunham Theater).

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