The incident happened early this morning when firefighters were responding to a small apartment fire on Cook Road in Southwest Houston. The stove fire was just about out by the time crews arrived.
According to those on the scene, Senior Captain Thomas Dillion was inside the unit and then walked out and collapsed. Firefighters performed CPR and took Dillion to the hospital here he died. They say it appears the 49 year old suffered a heart attack. This is Chief Terry Garrison.
"The job of a firefighter is an extremely stressful position in fact many people say it’s the most stressful job in the United States maybe secondary to our soldiers."
Garrison says heart attack is one of the leading causes of death among firefighters. But he says fighting fires is not the part that affects them the most. It’s getting to the scene that causes the stress.
"We’re at our fire station; we’re relaxed and then the alarm comes and we respond. We kinda go from 0 to 110 miles an hour in a very short period of time and over years that has stress on your heart, and I think that’s the primary reason we’re finding — it’s just the type of work that we do."
Captain Dillion had been with the department for 22 years. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
Mayor Annise Parker released the following statement:
"Today we lost a member of our family in the line of duty. His commitment to saving the lives and property of others is why we honor our firefighters' service. May Senior Captain Thomas W. Dillon rest in peace, and may his family find comfort in the support of the Houston Fire Department and the entire City of Houston."
Statement issued by Jeff Caynon, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA):
"The men and women of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association mourn the loss of Senior Captain Thomas W. ("Bill") Dillion. Senior Captain Dillion died today in the line of duty after fighting a fire at a southwest Houston apartment complex. He passed away after collapsing at the fire scene. Assigned to HFD Station 69, Senior Captain Dillion was an exemplary and well-respected firefighter during his 22-year HFD career. He is survived by three children. Memorial arrangements are pending.
This tragic passing of Senior Captain Dillion reminds us of the inherent dangers of our profession. The HPFFA, the City of Houston and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) are supporting and working with the Dillion family and all affected firefighters during this difficult time. Please keep the Dillion family, as well as the men and women of Station 69 and the city’s fire department, in your thoughts and prayers."
A 4:00 p.m. tweet by the Houston Firefighters @FirefightersHOUReply stated the following: L341 requests member volunteers to help w/ memorial services for Sr Capt Bill Dillion. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.