Another Chief Search for New Mayor

Three weeks after she became mayor, Annise Parker is looking for a Houston Fire Chief. Phil Boriskie announced his resignation yesterday and will return to the firehouse. Mayor Parker says the search for his replacement will not be rushed. Pat Hernandez has more.

Mayor Parker says it was with regret that she accepted the resignation of Phil Boriskie as Houston Fire Chief…effective Friday.

“Fortunately, he is not resigning from the department. He is merely stepping down as chief and he looks forward to continuing to serve the city in what he loves doing most, which is as a fire fighter.”

Mayor Parker says it is a period of transition from Chief Boriskie to acting chief Rick Flanigan. He’s a longtime veteran of the department.

“I look forward with working with Mayor Parker. There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done. This is, and I want to reiterate that, this is a great department. The members of this department serve diligently every single day. We’ve had some dark clouds, as anyone knows what I stand for, the main thing at the fire department is the platform for which I stand is mainly to keep everyone safe.”

The department has been criticized for its handling of an incident in which two female fire fighters found racist and sexist graffiti scrawled near their lockers.  Mayor Parker says those problems will be fixed.

“We are still awaiting the final OIG investigation report. I will sit down with Chief Flanigan and we will discuss how we work through the handling of that, and I will make a decision at that point as to whether to move forward within the department, or we’ll have to bring someone else in to conclude that investigation.”

Parker says she understands the traditions and symbols associated with fighting fires.

“I don’t want to disrupt that tradition, but it has to be a tradition that accommodates change, and one of the things that we must do is increase the number of women fire fighters in our service. We are becoming more diverse racially and ethnically, but we still lag seriously in the number of women, and the traditions and symbols of the fire service have to change with the times.”

The new chief might not come from within the ranks of the Houston Fire Department, but Acting Chief Flanigan will be considered.

“In any corporation or in any environment, the one thing you want to do is get the best person in the job. And if it takes that with the mayor’s decision, that’s exactly what we’ll respect. Let me say this, there are a lot of great candidates in this department that can lead it. This has been a management model that has been untouched by any other department in the United States of America, so I think what we’re gonna have to do is set the tone to address it. And I think we can be successful to do that.”