Widow of Houston firefighter sues Motorola for deadly 2013 fire

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For most people in Houston, the May 2013 Southwest Inn fire is still one of the Houston Fire Department's darkest days.

But for Jackie Dowling, it's fresh and still painful.

"I think about it everyday," she said. "I think about Bill everyday. I think about the other firefighters and their families."

Jackie was the wife of Captain Bill Dowling. He survived the flames and his injuries, but died four years later in 2017.

Jackie is now suing Motorola, the company that made the radios that reportedly didn't work. Her lawsuit alleges that this led directly to the death of her husband and four other firefighters.

"I definitely want Motorola to fix this issue," Jackie said. "We don't want other firefighters or police officers going into situations and not being able to have communication."

The widow's attorney is Ben Hall. He represented the other four families in a similar suit, which he says Motorola settled.

"The family needs to be compensated, and the dangers of these radio's needs to be brought to the attention of the public," said Hall. "In this case, you have a loss of 27-minutes of unusable radio time. That means that firefighters are stumbling around in fire conditions and rescue conditions trying to figure out how to coordinate efforts. "

Motorola sent the following statement to ABC13 Eyewitness News:
"We want to reiterate our sympathy toward the victims of the May 2013 tragedy, including the family of Captain Dowling. Although Motorola Solutions does not typically comment on pending litigation, we would note that that an independent report after the fire listed numerous potential contributing factors and since the fire, Motorola Solutions has worked closely with the Houston Fire Department to improve training and their understanding of the operational capabilities of the Department's radio system. We continue to stand behind our equipment and support our Houston customer."

Jackie Dowling disagrees, "These radios did not work."

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