With 63 years of service, Edward A. Thomas was the longest-serving officer in HPD history. HPD honored his legacy by renaming headquarters after Mr. Thomas, just two weeks before his death.
Houston Firefighters Captain Brad Hawthorne and Engineer Operator Dwayne Wyble have been selected as “2014 Firehouse Heroism Award” Honorees from “Firehouse Magazine” for their heroic actions in March of last year.
Fire Chief Terry Garrison presented the awards to the crew of Tower 18 on July 2, 2015. Firefighters Luis Bernal and Luis Gonzalez also received recognition from Firehouse Magazine for their efforts during the incident.
More about the incident: On March 25, 2014, Ladder 18 responded to a fire in the area of West Dallas and Montrose. As the crew of Ladder 18 began their operations, there was a small amount of smoke coming from the building, however within seconds the smoke turned rapidly moving fire. While putting the ladder to the roof, they spotted someone emerge on a 5th floor balcony.
Captain Hawthorne was on the tip of the ladder and viewed the roof. Engineer Operator Wyble moved the ladder in the direction of the victim with the Captain and the other two firefighters still on the ladder. They had to move fast because of the rapid spread of the fire.
The fire was venting through the door as the trapped person grabbed the ledge of the patio and swung himself down to the 4th floor patio. The adder reached the 4th floor and the Captain made his way to the very tip of the ladder as the trapped construction worker climbed onto the ladder.
Once the rescued person was with the Captain, Wyble quickly moved the ladder to away from the building due to the extreme heat. Within seconds and while still moving the ladder away from the building, the roof and 5th floor had a catastrophic collapse sending burning debris on to the 4th floor the building.
The collapse nearly missed the Captain and victim, landing within a few feet of the rear of the ladder truck. The Captain and construction worker were able to safely exit the ladder once they reached a safe distance from the building. It was a mere 4 minutes from the start of the aerial operations to the collapse.
On their ride to New York, HPD cyclists rescue a man, pay respects in Charleston, and raise money for cancer.
After 31 years with the city, Buster, deputy assistant director of the office management support branch, is retiring.