James Arthur Harlow, Sr., Captain

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Captain Harlow, Firefighter Hobbs, and the members of Engine 26 were dispatched to the report of a structure fire in a residence just after midnight. Engine 26 was the first to arrive on the scene approximately 6 minutes after dispatch. They found a large residence with smoke showing. Captain Harlow and Firefighter Hobbs advanced an attack line to the interior of the structure. Firefighter Hobbs was on the nozzle, backed up by Captain Harlow and another firefighter. As the line was advanced, the third firefighter had to withdraw from the structure due to an issue with his protective clothing. Approximately 7 minutes after the arrival of Engine 26 on the scene, fire conditions changed rapidly and firefighters exited the building. The IC declared a defensive strategy and apparatus air horns were sounded to announce the evacuation of the building. Firefighters realized that Captain Harlow and Firefighter Hobbs were not accounted for. Firefighters used master streams and handlines to try to control the fire. Approximately 30 minutes after the switch to defensive strategy, firefighters were able to enter the structure and Captain Harlow and Firefighter Hobbs were found. Both firefighters were removed to the front yard of the home and resuscitative efforts were made, to no avail. The cause of death for Captain Harlow was listed as thermal injuries and smoke inhalation. The cause of death for Firefighter Hobbs was listed as thermal injuries. This incident was the first structure fire response for Firefighter Hobbs. For additional information regarding this incident, please refer to NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Report F2009-11 (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200911.html). The Texas State Fire Marshal's Office prepared a detailed report on this incident. The report is available at https://www.tdi.state.tx.us/fire/fmloddinvesti.html Incident Location: 7800 block of Oak Vista (USNG: 15RTN79058547)

Department information

Houston Fire Department
1205 Dart ST
USNG: 15R TN 7091 9565
Houston, Texas 77007

Chief: Phil Boriskie

View NIOSH Report »

James Arthur Harlow, Sr. 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: 50
Rank: Captain
Classification: Career
Incident date: April 12, 2009 00:14
Date of death: April 12, 2009
Cause of death: Caught or Trapped
Nature of death: Burns
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential