Houston Mayor And Firefighters At Odds Over Plan To Bring HFD Budget Out Of The Red

The budget problems in the Houston Fire Department continue to play out at City Hall. Houston Mayor Annise Parker says her decision to cut trucks and staff on duty is necessary.

Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison has stated that the administration's plan to cut transport ambulances and reduce on-duty staff will put the public at risk.

And Mayor Parker admits if the strictest form of her plan is put into action, it could affect HFD response times.

"There is no doubt that if we had to park a significant number of fire apparatus, it could have an impact on public safety."

But Parker says the goal is to avoid that by reorganizing how HFD is staffed and reducing what she calls excessive overtime in the department.

"We have done nothing, to date, that should compromise public safety. We have put staff positions back out into the field, we did a shake-up and reduction is the size of the fire command staff, we did a reduction in the size of the finance staff and took over the finance staff because they were having obviously difficulty managing the increased budget that they were given."

About a dozen Houston firefighters were present during the mayor's remarks, but declined to comment.
The firefighters' union is suing the city over its plan to bench some units.
Meanwhile, the city and the union are in contract negotiations over future pay and benefits for firefighters.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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