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HomeLocal / Area NewsA NIGHT OUT WITH HFD CAPTAIN “IRON” BILL DOWLING

A NIGHT OUT WITH HFD CAPTAIN “IRON” BILL DOWLING

 

 

 

Over the years, Fire Department Captain Bill Dowling and the rest of Houston Fire Station 68 gathered a reputation as an exceptionally aggressive crew; battling blazes, rescuing victims and cutting fires off before they could advance any further. On May 31, 2013, Dowling was one of several firefighters dispatched to a the scene of a burning restaurant on Southwest Freeway. Despite their accomplished history, this particular call would quickly become tragic, saddening firefighters both local and around the world.

Captain Dowling, along with and firefighters Ann Sulivan and Robert Garner, were the second unit on the scene. As Bill and his crew entered the burning building, the heavy tile roof collapsed, trapping Captain Dowling beneath the burning debris. He hit his mayday button and the rescue team entered the fire in search of their fellow firefighters. Captain Dowling was located, rescued and transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center in Houston. The attending physician in the ambulance said that Captain Dowling, though severely injured, kept asking about the condition of his crew. Neither survived. He told the doctor, on the way to the hospital, to tell his wife and children that he would fight for them and that is what he continues to do.

In all, four firefighters were killed in the blaze and thirteen injured.

Dowling spent the next several months hospitalized recovering from his burns in critical condition. He was later afflicted with hypoxia (oxygen deprivation to specific parts of the body) during treatment and lost both his legs. Dowling was sent home from the hospital at last November, where a nurse now cares for him daily. In the time since, he has greatly improved over the months with physical therapy and regained close to forty pounds of his old weight.

Just 4 months ago, a charter jet provided donors flew Dowling and his wife Jacki to California to see their son, Forrest, graduate from the United States Marines Boot Camp.

Over months of recovery, one of Dowling’s greatest desires was to visit Twin Peaks in Shenandoah. That wish came true Saturday evening when Twin Peaks offered him and fellow firefighters an evening of fun and relaxation. With the party going on the second floor, firefighters joined in hoisting up Dowling’s wheelchair and carrying him up the stairs. Once there, he was treated like royalty, courtesy of Twin Peaks. Besides food and drink, they also provided a picnic basket full of goodies and Caney Creek Firefighters stopped by to say hello during the event, as did Needham Fire Department Firefighters.

Captain Dowling worked for the Houston Fire Department for thirteen years. During his career he has been assigned to Houston Fire Stations 12, 19, 2​5, and 48. At the time of the accident, he was assigned to 68 and also worked part time at Champions Volunteer Fire Department. Bill loves his God, his church, (Woods Edge in Tomball) and his pastor, Jeff Wells. Bill has demonstrated his devotion to this country with four years of service in the USMC, including time he saw combat in Somalia. He is a true family man that has been married to his wife, Jacki, for almost twenty years.. They have three children;  Forrest, 19, Faith, 14, and is Foster, 12.

Several events are scheduled in the next few months to raise funds for the Dowling family. These include an event at Gator Speedway on August 30 and a softball tournament in the south Houston area.

 

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