William “Iron Bill” Dowling

Captain William ‘Iron Bill’ Dowling passed away on March 7, 2017, from complications of the severe injuries suffered in the Southwest Inn fire on May 31, 2013, that killed four other Houston firefighters and seriously injured many more. The Southwest Inn fire is considered the deadliest day in Houston Fire Department history. In a statement, the Houston Fire Department said of Captain Dowling that “the incredible strength and bravery he showed as he and his family rebuilt his life – and theirs – after his injuries inspired us all. Please keep the Dowling family and all of the men and women of our fire department in your prayers.”

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office has prepared a report on this incident. The report is available at https://www.tdi.texas.gov/reports/fire/documents/fmloddhouston2013.pdf

The NIOSH Firefighter Fatality and Prevention Program report on the incident may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201316.pdf

Incident Location: 6855 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77074 (U.S. National Grid: 15R TN 5780 8940

Department Information

Houston Fire Department
600 Jefferson, 7th Floor, (
U.S. National Grid: 15R TN 7054 9373
Houston, Texas 77002

Chief: Samuel Peña

View NIOSH Report »

Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

Age: 43 
Rank: Captain 
Classification: Career 
Incident date: May 31, 2013 12:07
Date of death: Mar 7, 2017 
Cause of death: Collapse 
Nature of death: Other 
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland) 
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire 
Fixed property use: Store/Office