Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Remembering "The Fireman" Paul Red Adair June 18, 1915 - August 7, 2004

For many years, there  was only one man you called when faced with a major oil fire.  His name was Paul "Red" Adair from Houston, Texas.  Nicknamed "The Fire Man" Red was known worldwide for his knowledge of fires, particularly deadly oil fires.  He and his crew fought some of the biggest fires in history and were called all over the world for their expertise.

"Red" was born in Houston, Texas and learned about fires at a very early age. His father was a blacksmith and witnessed the power of fire in the blacksmith shop.  His family was relatively poor and "Red" left high school early to help support his family and would eventually go to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Two years later, "Red" landed a job with the Otis Pressure Control Company and worked in the fields in the Houston area.  He learned about the extracting of "black gold" from the ground up and would continue to learn when he entered  the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  As a staff sergeant, he served in the 139th Bomb Disposal Squad.  Much of his work in the military was dealing with unexploded shells and bombs in Japan and utilized those skills following his service to his country.  He also learned how to keep a "cool" head when faced with a crisis.

After the war, he worked on techniques of oil-well blowout  and fire control.  After fourteen years of daily learning, he formed his own company called the "Red Adair Company" and perfected the methods of controlling "wild wells" and also became widely known because of his flamboyant lifestyle.
John Wayne as Red Adair

The Red Adair team averaged 42 fires a year that occurred all over the world both on land and sea.  A movie was soon produced called "Hellfighters" that featured John Wayne as Adair.  He developed many firsts when it comes to fighting major fires that are implemented today.  He fought major fires including "Devil's Cigarette Lighter" in the Sahara Desert, "Catco offshore fire, Bravo blowout and the Piper Alpha Disaster both on the North Sea.  He also fought fires in Kuwait in 1991 during the Gulf War.

Paul "Red" Adair retired in 1993 and sold his company to Global Industries.  He was featured on the History Channel's Modern Marvels that would be one of Adair's last appearances.  He was also a spokesman for Rolex and American Express.  An account of his life is included in his biography called "The Fire Man" The Story of Red Adair.

Red Adair died on August 7, 2004 at the age of 89.

His funeral program at Famous Endings
His funeral service was held in the Jasek Chapel of George H. Lewis & Sons in Houston on August 10, 2004 (funeral program pictured).  The recessional included the song "The Fireman" by George Strait and was then laid to rest in the Forest Park Lawndale in the Abbey Mausoleum.

He was once quoted as saying "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

Red's resting place

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