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Honoring the Fallen During a Devastating Year for Firefighters

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“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”   ~Joseph Campbell

THE WOODLANDS– The State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas held their 137th Annual Firefighter Memorial Sunday at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, honoring fallen firefighters. The event remembers both those who died in the line of duty and those whose deaths were unrelated to firefighting.

In attendance were over 500, including several families of the fallen, who were honored as their names were read with the traditional ringing of the bell and a flower for each placed on a cross to be later moved to the Firefighters’ Memorial at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Conroe. The ringing of the bell is a tradition dating back to the days before fire trucks were motorized, signifying a firefighter’s return home. The Houston Fire Department Pipes and Drums played Amazing Grace, also a longtime tradition.

Chris Barron, SFFMA Executive Director, said 22 firefighters died in the line of duty between last year’s event and Sunday, including the West firefighters who died in the fertilizer plant explosion; the Houston firefighters who recently died fighting a hotel fire and the Bryan firefighters who died fighting a fire at a lodge hall. The total number lost to other causes over the past year was over 100.  (Scroll down for the complete list)

“It’s been a very bad year for Texas,” Barron said. “We’ve had 19 in the line of duty deaths already this year when normally we have about six for the entire year – it’s a year unlike any other that we have seen so far.”

The memorial ceremony also signals the start of the annual SFFMA conference, where Barron said firefighters would have multiple opportunities to learn about the latest safety and firefighting techniques, as well as recent nationwide trends to help keep themselves and others as safe as possible under the constantly changing conditions they face.

Barron said “It’s a different world,” referring to the ever present danger of major events, that now include weapons of mass destruction and hazmat incidents. He said additional dangers have been created by things that improve everyday life, with various plastic materials that create toxic fumes when they burn and making it necessary for fire departments to have the latest clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus.

The intensity of fires has also increased considerably, Barron said.

“Look at the events in West,” he said. “We went to put out a simple fire and the next thing you know, the whole plant exploded – two explosions, actually, and something we didn’t really account for. This is a possibility we have to look at, businesses and what they’re putting in businesses and warehouses and prepare for that whether it’s some type of chemical or other products that can create a secondary event.”

Barron said the training available over the next several days covers a wide range of topics and issues to improve firefighters’ preparation. SFFMA’s fire school begins in July.

 

Those honored in Sunday’s ceremony were:

 

Line Of Duty

 

Abbott Fire Department

Jerry Chapman …April 17, 2013

Cyrus Reed…April 17, 2013

 

Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department

Captain Neal Smith …September 17, 2012

 

Bluebonnet Volunteer Fire Department

Assistant Chief David Fox … February 20, 2013

 

Bruceville-Eddy Fire Department

Kevin Sanders…April 17, 2013

 

Bryan Fire Department

Eric Wallace …February 16, 2013

Greg Pickard … February 16, 2013

 

Dallas Fire – Rescue Department

Kenneth “Luckey” Harris, Jr…April 17, 2013

Stanley A. Wilson …May 20, 2013

 

Houston Fire Department

Robert Bebee …May 31, 2013

Robert Garner ….May 31, 2013

Matthew Renaud …May 31, 2013

Anne Sullivan …May 31, 2013

 

League City Fire Department

Donald Mize …March 6, 2013

 

Navarro Mills Volunteer Fire Department

Perry Calvin….April 17, 2013

 

West Volunteer Fire Department

Morris Bridges…April 17, 2013

Cody Dragoo…April 17, 2013

Jimmy Matus…April 17, 2013

Joseph Pustejovsky…April 17, 2013

Douglas Snokhous…April 17, 2013

Robert Snokhous….April 17, 2013

Buck Uptmor …April 17, 2013

 

Non-Line Of Duty

 

Alamo Volunteer Fire Department

Bill McDonalds … March 19, 2013

 

Aransas Pass Volunteer Fire Department

Robert James Miller …August 2, 2012

 

Archer City Volunteer Fire Department

Kenneth Stewart …June 4, 2012

Jack A. Davis …December 14, 2012

 

Arroyo City Volunteer Fire Department

Weldon Ray Hundly …October 17, 2012

David “Bart” Kelling Jr. …December 28, 2012

 

Ballinger Fire Department

Bobby Alston …June 29, 2012

Charles Webb .…November 12, 2012

Ross Black, Jr. …May 29, 2013

 

Bedias Volunteer Fire Department

Lester Sword … October 29, 2012

 

Beeville Fire Department

Kenneth Orrell, Sr. …November 26, 2012

 

Bon Wier Volunteer Fire Department

Carl Davis …August 28, 2012

 

Brownfield Fire Department

Earl Elrod …November 12, 2012

 

Brownsville Fire Department

Israel M. Najera ….February 2013

 

Bruceville-Eddy Fire Department

Dustin W. Collier …..April 19, 2013

 

Burton Volunteer Fire Department

Rodney Lynn Faist …. March 21, 2013

 

Canyon Fire Department

Tommy Joe Platt ….October 3, 2012

Larry Wall …. January 11, 2013

 

Carthage Fire Department

Jimmy Turner …..May 22, 2013

 

Channing Fire Department

Dale Edwards ….March 13, 2013

 

Chillicothe Fire Department

James D. Boone ….September 16, 2012

John A. Burnett ….February 19, 2013

 

Colorado City Fire Department

Ernest Castillo ….January 29, 2013

 

Corpus Christi Fire Department

Charles Morton Rogers ….July 12, 2012

Captain Benny Zapata …. November 15, 2012

House Capt, Robert Loran Merrill, Jr. .. Nov. 22, 2012

Ventura Alonzo Tovar …..February 13, 2013

 

Cuero Fire Department

Wayne Fromme …. November 3, 2012

Roy Binz …. January 1, 2013

 

El Campo Fire Department

Johnny Corbett ….February 7, 2013

David Hunter …. February 21, 2013

Obie O’Briant…. May 14, 2013

Otha Edison ….May 20, 2013

 

Elsa Volunteer Fire Department

Roman Flores …October 5, 2012

 

Ewell Volunteer Fire Department

Larry Neighbours …. April 25, 2013

 

Fredericksburg Fire Department

Waldemar “Wally” Carl Hannemann …Aug. 22, 2012

 

Gatesville Fire Department

James C. “Jack” Lipsey …. November 5, 2011

 

Graham Fire Department

Glenn Gardner ….May 31, 2012

 

Greenwood-Slidell Volunteer Fire Department

M. L. Teague …. August 7, 2012

 

Hallsville Fire Department

William Allen Graham …. September 10, 2009

Franklin Carl Craig ….December 19, 2010

 

Harlingen Fire Department

Elias Zamora ….July 29, 2012

 

Hidalgo Fire Department

Santos Vargas ….February 19, 2013

 

Ingleside Volunteer Fire Department

Richard Wayne Bowen …. October 25, 2012

 

Killeen Fire Department

Kermit Cosper …. June 2, 2012

 

La Feria Fire Department

Lazaro “Larry” Bruno, Sr. …..June 10, 2012

 

La Grange Volunteer Fire Department

John Wesley Steinmann ….July 19, 2012

 

Lake Jackson Fire Department

Michael Quisenberry …. January 16, 2013

 

League City VFD

Arthur Hewitt …. July 9, 2012

Don Evans …. April 1, 2013

 

Lumberton Fire & EMS

Galon Stark ….January 19, 2010

Phillip Lee …July 27, 2011

Bryan McKnight … October 15, 2011

Pauline Goodman …. December 22, 2011

 

Marshal Fire Department

Captain David R. Gray … June 1, 2012

 

Mauriceville Fire Department

Chief Arthur Lee Hickey …. September 13, 2012

 

McAllen Fire Department

Robert “Bob T” Torres … July 18, 2012

 

McAllen Fire Department & Hidalgo County Fire Marshal’s Office

Roland “Country Roland” Garcia … Oct. 18, 2012

 

Menard Fire Department

Fred Slay …. January 16, 2013

 

Milano Fire Department

Roy G. “Gappy” Miller ….August 20, 2012

 

Mission Fire Department

Percy Horace (P.H.) King ….July 11, 2012

 

Moody Fire Department

Gary L. Martin ….May 25, 2013

 

Olden Volunteer Fire Department

Larry Lee Blackwell …. September 4, 2012

 

Olton Fire Department

Ray Lopez ….February 17, 2013

 

Pantex Fire Department

Johnny Palmer ….July 12, 2012

 

Pedernales Volunteer Fire Department

Chief Ken Van Rens ….April 21, 2013

 

Roby Fire Department

Eugene Shipp ….April 3, 2013

 

Rockdale Fire Department

Charles Key …..July 10, 2012

Otto L. Brogger ….January 22, 2013

Frank Dymke ….January 29, 2013

 

San Diego Fire Department

Chief Sergio Garcia…. September 30, 2012

 

San Juan Fire Department

Roger Mann …. April 30, 2013

 

Seabrook Volunteer Fire Department

Chief Randal J. Zimmer ….September 3, 2011

 

Seguin Volunteer Fire Department

Herman H. Vogt…. August 12, 2012

Louis S. Scopel …. December 12, 2012

Leroy Beicker …. April 9, 2013

Hugo C. Schievelbein …. April 17, 2013

Alfred Kolbe …… May 4, 2013

John Joe Jandt ….. May 11, 2013

 

Shallowwater Fire Department

Gary Workman …….

 

Shamrock Fire Department

Robert “Dean” Bonner …..July 13, 2012

 

Sonora Volunteer Fire Department

Louis Olenick …. February 8, 2013

 

Stamford Fire Department

James “Jimmy” Green ….August 15, 2012

 

Sudan Fire Department

Sam De La Riva …. March 27, 2013

 

Trinity Volunteer Fire Department

James O. Reynolds … May 18, 2012

Jesse Howard “Butch” Gibson …. April 7, 2013

 

Waco Fire Department

Kent Hodges ….February 14, 2013

 

Washburn Fire Department

Marvin Cottrell ….February 21, 2013

 

Waskom Fire Department

Harold Erman England ….February 4, 2013

 

Whitney Fire Department

Prather Thomas …. February 11, 2013

 

Winters Fire Department

James Spill ….December 31, 2012

 

Woodrow Volunteer Fire Department

Timothy Tate ….March 26, 2013

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