Houston Says Goodbye To Fallen Firefighters

Houston said goodbye Thursday to two men who gave their lives to protect others.


HOUSTON --

Houston said goodbye Thursday to two men who gave their lives to protect others, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Capt. James Harlow, 50, and Damion Hobbs, 29, of Fire Station 26, died battling a house fire on Oak Vista Street near De Leon Street shortly after 12 a.m. Sunday.

Harlow, Hobbs and other firefighters went inside the burning home to search for anyone who may have been trapped inside. Harlow and Hobbs did not make it out.

Hundreds paid their last respects at a memorial service at Grace Community Church, 14505 Gulf Freeway.

A procession, which included the firefighters' caskets on the top of fire trucks, went from Fire Station 93 on Dixie Farm Road to the church.

"These men responded to someone they never met, tried to protect something they never owned and we miss them terribly. We routinely respond to the worst day of a person's life. We are not immune to having the same accidents and tragedies happen to us," Houston Fire Chief Phil Boriskie said.

Harlow had been with the Houston Fire Department since 1979 and was promoted to captain in 2004.

Hobbs was a rookie firefighter who graduated from the Fire Academy in March. He returned from a 14-month tour of duty in Iraq in July 2007.

The men who served at Station 26 with Harlow and Hobbs asked Executive Assistant Fire Chief Rick Flanagan to share some of their most cherished memories.

Flanagan said for the first time in the department's history, it stopped working for several hours during Hurricane Ike because of high winds. Firefighters manned the stations.

"Somewhere in the distance they hear this popping sound," Flanagan said. "This large sound -- it sounded so strange. It didn't sound like a light pole or anything like that, but it was consistent as though it was motorized. It got louder and louder. Lo and behold, they could see some headlights that were coming up the driveway. Out of this pickup truck comes Capt. Harlow. He walks in the station and he tells those guys, 'Man, I don't know how I made it through this storm.' That gives you some insight to the kind of commitment this guy had. When we stopped, he was still going."

Flanagan talked about Hobbs' first day at Station 26.

"He goes to the fire station on March 7. The body of people there are quite unique," Flanagan said. "They embraced him. They embraced him in such a way that one of the veteran firefighters went in his locker, he got a rookie T-shirt that had a rookie label over the side. He was so impressed with this young man. He says, 'I want you to wear this. This is your seal of approval of acceptance.' Damion, a bold gentleman, quite proud to wear the shield. He put it on and everywhere he went, he wanted them to know he was the new man on the totem pole at Station 26. He wore that shirt. He wore that shirt, my friends in Christ, the Easter morning we pulled him out of that building."

Flanagan read from a letter the firefighters wrote.

"Capt. Harlow was affectionately referred to by his fellow firefighters as 'Capt. Hogleg,'" he read. "He was about as country as a country boy could be. A true salt of the Earth, a firefighters' captain who worked his way up in the ranks, but he never forgot what it was like starting out. He was always willing to do everything he asked his men to do. He was loved by all who had the privilege to know him."

Harlow's team said he was an inspiration to all.

"We responded to many fires together, and it was a comfort to know he was there," Flanagan read from the letter. "The pain that we all feel from losing him is a testament to the kind of man he was -- a good man. Thought it breaks our hearts to say goodbye, we will never regret knowing him."

The firefighters reminisced about the good times they had with Harlow.

"Out of all the captains we've ever had, Capt. Harlow was different, but in a good way," Flanagan read from the letter. "We took over the cooking duties because we were trying to keep our cholesterol down due to all the butter that Capt. Hogleg used."

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