Family members of fallen firefighter talk

April 14, 2009 5:20:12 PM PDT
Family members of fallen firefighter Captain James Harlow are talking for the first time since his tragic death. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Surrounded by his colleges at Fire Station 26 Tuesday afternoon, Captain James Harlow's family spoke to the media.

"There wasn't anything that man wouldn't' do for any of us standing in this room right now," said Harlow's son, James Harlow, Jr.

They recalled his long life with the Houston Fire Department.

"My dad loved his job 100 percent," said Harlow's daughter, Brandy. "There's nothing that he would rather be doing than doing what he did."

Harlow, who had been with the fire department since 1979, died Easter Sunday, along with rookie firefighter Damion Hobbs. Both were killed battling a blaze inside a home in southeast Houston, a tragedy that has not only affected the men's closest colleagues, but has also left a lasting impact on the entire firefighting community

"You lose two brothers in one fell swoop when you just had dinner with them and you've spent the day with them and you've spent several years with them, it's very traumatic," said Assistant Chief Karen DuPont.

DuPont runs the Critical Incident Stress Management Team, a program which began in the early 1990s. It helps firefighters cope with tragedies like this past weekend's.

Essential to the program is the use, other trained firefighters, to help colleagues talk through the grief.

"We respond to everyone's worst moment in their lives," said DuPont. "Who helps us when it becomes a little too much to bear?"

It's a grief now shared with two other families eased only by the fact that their loved ones died doing what they love.

"He was with the department since he was 21 and he loved doing it," said Brandy.

Several agencies are assisting in the fire investigation, including the state fire marshal's office and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The Houston Fire Department says it will not discuss any details while the investigation is ongoing. So far, there's no official cause of the fire.

A combined memorial service for the fallen firefighters will be held this Thursday at 10am at Grace Community Church on the Gulf Freeway. It is open to the public. Separate private funeral services for each man will be held on Friday.

How you can help

If you want to help the families of the firefighters, you can make a donation to "The 100 Club".

Just mail your donation to the Survivor's Fund to the following:

    The 100 Club Incorporated
    1233 West Loop South, Suite 1250
    Houston, Texas 77027.

The organization helps the families of police officers and firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.

The Last Alarm Club of Houston was founded in 1977 to help families of Houston fire fighters killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. They will be assisting the Harlow and Hobbs families. Contributions are welcomed.

More information is available at or by calling 713-223-9166.

- Statement from Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA)

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Houston Fire Department | Cpt. James Harlow and Firefighter Damien Hobbs | Houston Professional Firefighters