Fallen hero's family hoping 100 Club keeps rule-change promise

July 1, 2013 4:46:09 PM PDT
Last week, we broke the news that funds raised in the name of four fallen Houston firefighters would not go to their families. Since our investigation aired, the 100 Club vowed it would change its rules. Now, another family in the same devastating situation hopes the club keeps its promise.

On Thursday, the 100 Club promised to help the families of the four recently fallen heroes. As of now, those families have not heard from the 100 Club. But this is not the first time this issue has come up.

Easter Sunday four years ago, a suburban house fire took the lives of two Houston firefighters -- Capt. James Harlow and Damian Hobbs, Janice Deshazer's brother.

"You still remember that knock on the door, don't you?" we asked Deshazer.

"Yeah," she said.

Hobbs was just 29 years old. He was an Iraq War veteran and brand new firefighter, but he had no wife and no kids.

"Who was left to pay Damian's bills?" we asked.

"Me," Deshazer said.

And she did it without any financial assistance from Houston's 100 Club. The club generously helped Harlow's widow, but by club's rules -- single, childless firefighters -- are ineligible for aid.

It is still the rule even after the loss of four childless, single firefighters on May 31. The executive director has not returned calls or emails requesting another interview, but last week, Rick Hartley told us the club feels other benefits are in place to help single, childless firefighters.

"The funds that they receive there will be more than adequate to settle the estate of that single person," Hartley said.

That may be the case, but the 100 Club has been slow to tell the public when fallen heroes are ineligible. In Hobbs' case, the 100 Club logo hung over a KPRC telethon days after the fatal fire that raised nearly $100,000.

Deshazer doesn't even think the telethon mentioned her family was left out.

"As a tragedy with two firefighters, you can't say we're going to exclude this one because it doesn't look good," she said.

"But they did exclude him?" we asked.

"Yes, they did," she said.

"They followed their rules, but they excluded him?"

"Correct."

"And you believe it's time the rules changed?"

"Yes."

It is too late for her but she hopes not for any other family.

"I don't look for anything and don't want anything from the 100 Club, just that they change the rules," Deshazer said.

Statistics suggest this is not the last time this will come up for the 100 Club. According to the Houston Fire Department, 42 percent of firefighters are single; 26 percent of them have no children. And it's a similar story at the Houston Police Department; 34 percent of them have no children, and 59 percent are single. We don't know how many and both single and childless.

The president of the 100 Club board said the board's been meeting all day about this issue and others. They continue to meet right now and says there may be a resolution Tuesday.

Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices


Load Comments