Mayday, the internationally recognized word used to send a distress signal to an entire department alerting them that one or more of their members are in jeopardy. It is also a signal that Firefighters fear hearing the most.
On Friday, May 31, 2013, the Mayday alarm was heard throughout the Houston Fire Department, which tragically resulted in the most catastrophic loss of lives in the history of our department. We lost four of our very brave members that day.
Our hearts are broken but our spirits are strong. There is little we can do to help heal the hurt we feel. However we can stay strong in spirit, celebrate their lives and honor their service. We can continue to do our jobs to the best of our ability.
We can stand united as an organization and as an extended family to continually ensure that we provide the highest level of customer service, and always do our upmost to ensure firefighter safety.
Firefighters across this country acknowledge and accept the inherent risks that come with our job, and we all willingly take the Firefighter Oath of Service-in part vowing to serve the citizens of our communities with bravery, empathy and integrity.
The Houston Fire Department averages 850 calls a day; that includes approximately a dozen working fires each shift. Our brave men and women continuously work to help keep the citizens of our city out of harm's way. That's just a normal day in the life of a Houston Firefighter.
As the Fire Chief of this exceptional organization, I stand before you today; respectful, humbled, and extremely proud of all our Houston Fire Department members.
I'm especially proud of Cpt. Mattew [sic] Renaud, Engineer Operator Robert Bebee, Firefighter Robert Garner, and Firefighter Anne Sullivan - for they paid the ultimate price in the line of duty.
As every Houston firefighter readily does; they quickly responded to the call of duty last Friday, and fulfilling our department motto of Courage, Commitment, and Compassion proceeded to do their jobs.
To the families and loved ones of our fallen firefighters, let me say that I recognize your sacrifice and I thank you; for you gave more than what is ever expected of anyone –you gave a part of yourself, you gave your loved ones!
We can never fully convey our sorrow, gratitude, and admiration for these brave individuals, and we can only speculate on what future contributions they may have made to our department,
But as it stands today, they gave it their all and for that we will be forever in their debt and we will never forget.
When the Mayday sounded last Friday here in Houston, I truly believe our members left this earthly place and immediately stood at attention on the row call in Heaven.
And rest assured Heaven received an amazing crew; Captain Renaud, Engineer Operator Bebee, Firefighter Garner and Firefighter Sullivan who I know are ready for any task they are assigned.
I know this in my heart because I believe that when we take our last breath on earth; we take our very next breath in Heaven.
God Bless the Houston Fire Department and the citizens of Houston.
God Bless our members that are still hospitalized; Captain William Dowling, Engineer Operator Anthony Livesay, Firefighter Robert Yarbrough and all our members that continue to heal both mentally and physically.
And finally, may God bless you the family members and loved ones of our fallen firefighters.