Houston, TX Local 341 member Bill Dowling’s courageous fight to survive after being severely injured in a 2013 hotel fire has earned him the nickname “Iron Bill.” Both of his legs were amputated, and complications related to his other injuries require a special van with accommodations in order to travel. With the assistance of Help the Good Guys, country music singer Aaron Tippin has released a special song called “One of the Good Guys” to help Houston Local 341 and Fire Station 19 raise the $80,000 to purchase the van.
“We can’t express how thankful we are to everyone who is helping Brother Dowling and his family,” says Houston Local 341 President Alvin White.
On May 31, 2013, Dowling was among those responding to the five-alarm hotel fire. Just a few minutes after arriving on the fire ground, the roof collapsed. Four members – Matthew Renaud (Station 51), Robert Bebee (Station 51), Anne Sullivan (Station 68) and Robert Garner (Station 68) – were killed and several others were injured, including Dowling who was partially pinned.
Despite his injuries, he was able to hit his Mayday button and was pulled out, but his injuries were so serious that doctors were not sure that he would make it through the night. Eventually, both legs were partially amputated.
When he was injured, Dowling was working out of Station 68, but he had previously been assigned to Station 19. As his Station 68 brothers and sisters were grieving the loss of their crewmates Sullivan and Garner, Station 19 began looking for a way to assist Dowling’s family.
One of the family’s biggest challenges is getting Dowling from one place to another. Houston members pledged to raise the money for the van with the help of Help the Good Guys and Aaron Tippin (who offered to help after hearing about the fire.) Tippin has also agreed to donate proceeds from his March 27, 2015, concert to be held at the Redneck Country Club owned by former Houston City Council Member Michael Berry.