Memorial Service for Dowling highly symbolic for firefighters

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The sound of bagpipes led the way, as firefighters escorted Captain William Dowling to his memorial service. The unique funeral coach matched the distinction of his service.

It's an Houston Fire Department fire truck, specifically outfitted to carry caskets for firefighters' funerals.

Retired HFD District Chief Tom Slagle spent the morning with ABC13, explaining for viewers the deep symbolism of the memorial.

SKYEYE: Firefighters arrive to site of Dowling memorial
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SkyEye view of flag being raised for Capt. Bill Dowling

"It's their last ride. They're put in the fire truck one last time, and it is their final ride," explained Slagle.

Part of Dowling's journey took his casket between two fire trucks, and under Old Glory.

"They are the first line of defense for this country, and what a fitting tribute to have the American flag hoisted between two iconic symbols of the fire service," said Slagle.

A red helmet with the number 68 for Dowling's fire station preceded him, "In Houston, the red helmet is the captain's helmet."

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More than 2,000 people were in attendance for Dowling's memorial service at Houston Baptist University.

To close Dowling's memorial, there were seven rings of a bell, followed by one ring - a 7-1 or a tap-out - it's the historic way of letting firefighters know their work is done.

RELATED: Captain "Iron Bill" Dowling honored during 'homecoming'

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"So the 7-1 for Captain Dowling today was his 7-1, your assignment on Earth has been completed."

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