Lemuel “DJ” Bruce

Lemuel “DJ” Bruce

Lemuel “DJ” Bruce was born in Houston on August 23, 1976. The son of Charlotte Taylor and Delray Bruce Sr., he grew up in north Houston, was a dedicated Boy Scout, and graduated from Klein Oak High School in 1995. DJ then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served honorably for five years and became one of the youngest Black Hawk helicopter crew chiefs in the history of the Corps. He later served in the Army National Guard.

DJ was an extraordinary husband, father, son, brother, professional colleague, and friend. His survivors include wife, Rachel; daughter, Sydney; son, Greyson; mother, Charlotte; father, Delray Sr., and stepmother, Esmelda; in-laws, Dan and Tina Taylor; in-law, Cindy Taylor; sisters, Danelle Shields (Shane) and Brande Rios (Marc); brother, Manny Zavala (Elda); and stepsister, Belinda Rendon (Bobby).

From scouting as a young man to the military and then the fire service and as an investigator, DJ committed early on to a life of service. Along the way, he constantly strived to improve himself and provide for his family, working many side jobs and obtaining a fire science engineering degree. He seemed to always be preparing for his next test. DJ’s interests off the job were diverse–from wood working to beekeeping, bottling beer, high-end whiskey, and old-school country music. As many of DJ’s friends have said, life was “Better with Bruce.”

DJ’s final job assignment as an arson investigator matched his inquisitive personality. He loved to learn, he was ambitious, and he wanted to right wrongs. His professional dedication was surpassed only by his commitment to his family. Throughout his 15-year marriage to Rachel, DJ made time every day for his family, no matter what his job and academic commitments required.

DJ was a proud member of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA), the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), and Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas (CLEAT).

The Bruce family offers gratitude for the continuing support of the Houston Fire Department Family, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, and the Houston Fire Department Arson Unit.

Kenneth D. Stavinoha

Kenneth D. Stavinoha

Kenneth Dale Stavinoha, a native Houstonian and a believer in Christ, passed away on September 21, 2019. Kenneth suffered a heart attack while performing his assigned duties at Station 27 and unfortunately did not survive, leaving his crew devastated.

Born in Houston on April 13, 1983, Kenneth graduated from Scarborough High School in 2002. Ken was an achiever, and though he did not have the opportunity to go to college, it did not stop him from reaching his goals. Obstacles in life shaped the person he grew up to be, a hardworking man of courage. Always eager to help others, one of Kenneth’s many admirable qualities was his passion for fixing things, especially cars. This quality proved to be a blessing in his life when he later became a firefighter. Aside from his love for cars, Ken also enjoyed fishing, surfing, hunting, and racing, especially his Toyota Supra.

Ken worked for 16 years in the printing industry at Page International Communications, where he met his wife, Jessica, in 2005. Their compassionate love for each other helped them endure hardships. In 2016, Page International Communications closed its doors to employees due to financial difficulties, and Ken lost his job. It was a tough time, but Ken was determined and did not give up. Sacrifices were made so he could have a brighter professional future. It was at this point that Ken’s mechanical knowledge paid off as he began his firefighting career.

After his many years devoted to printing, Ken pursued his new career as a firefighter with great effort. One of the notable sacrifices made to support this new endeavor was to sell his Toyota Supra, painful but necessary. Ken started Houston Community College’s Basic Fire Fighter Academy and EMT in 2016. It was a rough course, but he made it through. Ken completed and passed all certification required to start his journey as a firefighter. He applied to the Houston Fire Department and enrolled in the HFD Fire Academy in February 2018. His first HFD station was Station 19, where he met his first crew. After his probationary period, Ken was assigned to Station 27–A Shift.

Ken’s strength, tall stature, and tough shell could have made you feel intimidated, but to all those who truly knew him, he will always be remembered as a kind, gentle giant with a good soul. His unwavering dedication to his job and his love to help others will always be a cherished memory of him. Ken left an empty space in the heart of his wife and countless others whose lives he touched.

William “Iron Bill” Dowling

William 'Iron Bill' Dowling

William Ross “Iron Bill” Dowling was born to Rick and Mary Dowling in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1973. He had three siblings, Joseph, John, and Mary. From the time he was born, he fought to find his place in this world. His younger years were a struggle, but he always had the support of his family to guide him in the right direction.

Searching for his purpose, he met the woman who would change his life forever. On September 25, 1993, while home on boot leave from his new-found career in the United States Marine Corps, he married his beautiful bride, Jacki. The Dowling family established their roots, and 3 amazing children followed—two boys and one girl. Forrest, Faith, and Foster were his pride and joy.

After serving four years in the Marine Corps, he began to search for a career that fulfilled his desire to serve others. He placed an article from the Houston Fire Department in his Bible and prayed he would get the job. In October 2000, his prayers were answered, and he graduated from the Houston Fire Academy. Thirteen years later, and never missing a promotion, he was made captain. He absolutely loved his job as a firefighter, almost as much as he loved being a devoted husband and father.

His time here on this earth was cut short, but he lost his life doing what he loved, fighting fires. He left behind many friends and loved ones who adored him and miss him dearly.

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful…enter into the joy of your master.
Matthew 25:23

Steven R. Whitfield II

Steven R. Whitfield II

Firefighter Cadet Steven R. Whitfield II, age 32, of the Houston Fire Department, died on March 31, 2016, when he collapsed immediately after completing a physically-intense cadet training obstacle course.

Dwight “BB” Bazile

Dwight “BB” Bazile

Captain Dwight Wayne “BB” Bazile Sr., 56, was born on June 14, 1958, in Houston, Texas, where he graduated from Forest Brook High School in 1976. In 1978, he graduated from the Houston Fire Academy. He soon after became known as “BB,” short for “baby boy,” because he was so young when he entered the fire department.

As one of the founding members of the Houston Chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, he never turned down anyone in need of assistance. Captain Bazile was known to stand up for equality and justice for firefighters in Houston and across the nation.

Dwight Bazile is a name that is well known in the Houston Fire Department. In 2011 he, along with several others, won a lawsuit that changed the promotional process for officers in the Houston Fire Department. These changes met the standards other major cities had been using for years. This promotional technique, also known as “assessment,” used an evaluation process that reveals the best-qualified candidate by assessing job knowledge, situational judgment, and other abilities necessary to effectively carry out the job description of the position being evaluated.

Captain Bazile was also a licensed vocational nurse. He did numerous things in his community and in the community where he worked. Just minutes before his last house fire, he orchestrated a meeting to find help for an elderly lady who lived alone in his station’s territory. In the 37 years in which Captain Bazile served as a firefighter for the citizens of Houston, he spent nearly all of his time at station 46. Station 46 has always been one of the busiest stations in the city. With his years of service he could have elected to work at a less demanding station but he chose to work at Station 46 because of his admiration and love for that community.

On Thursday, February 19, 2015, while battling a house fire, Captain Bazile realized something was terribly wrong. After making it to his engineer operator, he soon collapsed. He fought as long as he could for nearly 48 hours. On Saturday, February 21, 2015, the gentle giant quietly passed away.

Captain Dwight Bazile will forever live in the heart of his family and in the Houston Fire Department. The same engineer operator Captain Bazile walked to that day in February was later promoted using the newer promotional process mentioned earlier and became captain of Captain Bazile’s last crew.

Captain Bazile lived and died serving the community he loved. He will never be forgotten.

Daniel David Groover

Daniel D. Groover from Engine 104 joined the Houston Fire Department after returning home from serving five years in the U.S. Army. He was a second generation firefighter; his father, Captain Gary S. Groover (retired), was a Houston firefighter for over 30 years. As an only child, Danny wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the Houston Fire Department in 1993.

While in the military, Danny was a medic and worked in the emergency room in Germany, so it was easy for him to volunteer to become a paramedic for the Houston Fire Department. He served as a firefighter/paramedic for 17 years, and in 2013 he opted to go back to firefighting. Danny and his fellow firefighters were fighting a two-story house fire when he lost his life on July 9, 2014.

Danny was a wonderful, quiet, loving, caring man and will be missed by so many. He impacted so many people in his short life.

You are gone, but you will never be forgotten.

With all my Love,
Ellie Groover,
Widow of Daniel D. Groover

Matthew R. Renaud

Matthew R. Renaud

On July 2, 1977, Matthew Rena Renaud was born at Herman Hospital in Houston, Texas. Matthew was proud to be a native Houstonian, Texan, and of his heritage. After graduation from North Shore High School in 1996, he received a degree from San Jacinto College. During college, Matthew began to realize his calling to become a firefighter. Shortly after earning his fire science degree, Matthew was a cadet at the Houston Fire Academy, Val Jahnke Training Facility. He graduated 10th in his class in 2001. Matthew’s first station was 51, in southwest Houston, where he built close relationships, bonds, and his love for Station 51.

He excelled quickly through the ranks of the Houston Fire Department. In 2007, he was promoted to engine operator. In 2011, he scored high on the captain’s exam and was promoted to captain. Throughout his career he worked at several stations around Houston; however, he found his way back home to Station 51 after his captain’s promotion. At the time of his death, Captain Renaud had just completed taking his senior captain’s exam and scored well to insure yet another promotion.

Matthew received the Unit Meritorious Medal on April 27, 2013. He, along with two of his fellow firefighters, pulled an unconscious victim out of a burning apartment in April 2012. He never thought it was that big of a deal. He was just doing his job. Matthew loved being a Houston firefighter, captain, his fellow firefighters, and serving his city.

Matthew had a great love for his family, friends, and his dog, Hoagie. He enjoyed visiting with people he cared for and loved on any level. Sports were a very big part of his life. Growing up he played baseball and lived a very active life. When he wasn’t playing, he enjoyed and loved his Houston professional sports teams, especially the Astros. Every year, along with some friends and his brother David, Matthew would take a trip to watch the Astros play in another city. They were able to take seven of these trips together, and the memories will be cherished by all who went. Today we still take those trips, with a fire station visit to honor and remember Matthew.

Watching the Astros play in another city fulfilled another love of his, traveling. Whether taking a road trip to the river or boarding a plane to fly to another city, he was ready for the getaway and to have fun. Having fun is what he wanted to do, whether it was at the station, home with family, a Texan’s game, or traveling.

Captain Matthew Renaud is survived by his father and stepmother, Xavier and MicDalia Renaud; his mother, Barbara Perez; his brother, David Renaud; his brother’s wife, Courtney; nephew, Luke Renaud; and his basset hound, Hoagie.

Anne McCormick Sullivan

Anne McCormick Sullivan

Anne McCormick Sullivan was born on December 4, 1988, in Houston, Texas, to Jack and Mary Moore Sullivan. Anne was sister to Will, Kate, and Thomas Sullivan.

Anne always had a big ole Texas smile on her beautiful face. She has been described as compassionate, courageous, loyal, disciplined, stubborn, honest, determined, dedicated, a self starter, funny, headstrong, optimistic, unshakable, trustworthy, tenacious, and spiritual.

Anne loved athletics, especially soccer and cross country running. She loved the competition and the camaraderie of being part of a team. In her senior year of high school, she was honored as Female Athlete of the Year. Her coach told her, “You won the award because you worked harder and pushed yourself more than any other athlete, never missing a practice or game and always helping and encouraging your teammates.”

At age 17, Anne decided to become a firefighter, and nothing was going to stop her. Her determination and perseverance to overcome obstacles to achieve that goal was remarkable. True to her dream, Anne earned her firefighter and EMT certifications and joined two volunteer fire departments, where she was nicknamed “Punky” and “Mighty Mouse.” Punky because Anne always wore her hair in a ponytail, and Mighty Mouse because at 5′ 2″ she could pick up a 180-pound man and carry him around the station.

Anne graduated from the Houston Fire Department Academy in April 2013. Her instructor said, “Anne showed that of her 5′ 2″ frame, 5′ 1″ was heart. She amazed the staff on how she made it through evolutions on sheer determination; she NEVER quits.”

On May 31, 2013, Anne was killed at the Southwest Inn fire in Houston, along with three fellow firefighters. To honor Anne’s spirit and sacrifice, the Houston Fire Department Academy commissioned the Anne McCormick Sullivan Award, to be presented to the cadets “who best exemplify integrity, extraordinary responsibility, never-quit attitude, and the discipline and commitment to be the best.” In addition, the Anne Sullivan Foundation was created as a living legacy to provide scholarship funds for women to pursue the noble calling of firefighting to carry on Anne’s dream.

Anne will be deeply and forever missed by her family, friends, fellow firefighters, and the many people whose lives she so positively touched.

Robert H. Garner IV

Robert H. Garner IV

Robert “Bobby” Garner IV was a tenacious 29-year-old with a huge heart. From the time he was a little boy he always enjoyed serving and helping others. Robert knew when he was in high school that he wanted to be a fireman.

Not long after graduation, Robert joined the U.S. Air Force and served as an airman for six years. During that time Robert was able to travel and serve his country. At the end of his six years, Robert knew exactly what he wanted to do—join the Houston Fire Department. And that he did. Robert made A’s in high school and never cracked a book. However, for the HFD Academy that guy lived in his textbooks. He went through the academy and graduated second in his class.

Upon graduation, Robert was assigned to Station 68. He had done copious amounts of research about all of the stations in the city, and Station 68 was his first pick. Robert was fortunate enough to serve all of his time as a Houston Firefighter with his Station 68 family. Robert was quiet at his station and took his work seriously. Outside of the station he was a fun loving, down to earth guy who enjoyed hanging out with friends and spending time with his sisters.

Robert will be missed by his family and friends, but his legacy will continue to live on.

Thomas W. Dillion

Thomas W. Dillion

Thomas William ‘Bill’ Dillion was born March 25‚ 1962‚ in Houston‚ Texas‚ to Thomas Wayne and Letha Faye Dillion. He was a 1980 graduate of Cypress Creek High School. Bill was a very warm‚ friendly‚ outgoing individual who enjoyed life. He is described by others as kindhearted‚ compassionate‚ and someone who loved helping others.

Bill knew at a very early age that he was interested in being a firefighter. At the age of 15‚ he joined the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department as a junior member. He continued to serve his community until deciding to pursue that love and become a professional firefighter. Bill attended the Texas A&M Fire Training Academy and upon completion accepted a position with the Houston Fire Department. He completed his training and graduated from the Houston Fire Academy in June of 1989.

Bill’s passion for firefighting and the love of his job provided the motivation required to advance quickly through the ranks of the Houston Fire Department to become a senior captain. He loved the guys that he worked with-his ‘Station 69 family.’ Bill was known as a prankster and loved having fun with the guys‚ but when it came to work-safety and training-it was all business. Safety always came first.

Throughout his 22-year career with HFD‚ Bill served as a member of the HFD Honor Guard‚ the suicide prevention team‚ and assisted with training classes. In 2006‚ he completed his degree in fire science.

On his days off from HFD‚ Bill also worked as a member of the duty crew for the Magnolia Fire Department. He was well respected by his peers and was often asked to assist with whatever his experience could bring to the department. He spoke often about the ‘brotherhood’ that firefighters share‚ no matter what department you are with or what demographic area you are from. He was passionate about that bond that all firefighters share.

When Bill was not at the fire station‚ he loved spending time with his children‚ family‚ and friends. He was a loving father‚ and most of the time you could find him at one of their athletic events cheering on the team. He loved camping and spending time with friends. He was an avid fisherman‚ where he enjoyed meeting people and sharing the gospel of Christ. He was a member of Grace Community Church and enjoyed volunteering whenever there was a need.

Bill is survived by his sons‚ David and Matt Dillion; daughter‚ Katelyn Dillion; mother‚ Letha Dillion; sister‚ Brenda Machala‚ and husband Tommie; nephews‚ Daryl‚ Gary‚ and Cody Machala; brother‚ Lee Gooch‚ and wife Sonya; and niece‚ Shalee.