Grady Don Burke, Captain

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Captain Burke's engine company and other fire department units were dispatched to a report of a structure fire in a residential occupancy. Captain Burke and his engine were the first fire department unit on scene, arriving three minutes after dispatch. They found a working fire in a single-story residence. Captain Burke and the members of his company stretched an attack line and made entry into the front of the structure. Interior visibility was good in the front area, but decreased as firefighters advanced toward the kitchen area at the rear. Movement inside the structure was complicated by debris left in the building by vagrants. Roof ventilation was not possible, due to fire conditions, and ladder company firefighters entered the interior of the structure. A second attack line was extended into the building. At approximately 0610hrs, the roof of an addition at the rear of the structure collapsed into the rear portion of the building. The collapse caused rapid fire progress in the interior and forced firefighters to exit the building quickly. A standard fireground evacuation signal was sounded. A personal accountability report was completed, and a second alarm was ordered. A Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) was directed into the structure to assist firefighters. An electronic accountability system indicated that Captain Burke's PASS device was in alarm. The RIT began to search for him by following hose lines into the fire area. Captain Burke was located at approximately 0629hrs, under 2 to 3 feet of debris. The cause of death was listed as smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. Captain Burke's blood carbon-monoxide level was 26 percent. The fire was arson-caused. A report on this incident will be prepared by the Texas State Fire Marshal. The report will be available at For additional information regarding this incident, please refer to NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program report F2005-09 (

Department information

Houston Fire Department
1205 Dart Street
Houston, Texas 77007

Chief: Phil Boriskie

View NIOSH Report »

Grady Don Burke was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.
Age: 39
Rank: Captain
Classification: Career
Incident date: February 19, 2005 06:00
Date of death: February 19, 2005
Cause of death: Collapse
Nature of death: Asphyxiation
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential

Memorial fund information

C/o   Houston Fire Department, 1205 Dart Street, Houston, TX  77007