HFD: "So Distasteful, So Painful, So Despicable"

Rick Flanagan: "We want the person or persons that are responsible for this brought to justice."

Looking at Executive Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan of the Houston Fire Department, it's obvious that he and other members of the department were troubled at the discovery of graffiti of a "racist and sexist" nature. It was found by two female firefighters on a door of their living quarters at Station-54 at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Captain David Watkins of the city's inspector general's office was notified shortly after the graffiti was found.

"[The] fire chief contacted me at my home as a matter of fact, which shows the urgency of the situation, and asked me to expedite the investigation. We sent our crime scene unit out to collect evidence, we've notified our criminal intelligence division because they classify these types of things as hate crimes, and the investigation is currently ongoing at this time with the collection of statements and evidence."

Investigators say they don't know who may have had access to the fire station. Fire Chief Phil Boriskie says it's not known if the graffiti was the work of a firefighter.

"The Houston Fire Department will cooperate and support this investigation to the fullest, and I believe hopefully we will prosecute this to the fullest extent. I view this as a terminating offense, and quite frankly, a criminal offense."

Earlier this year, Chief Boriskie was criticized for not disciplining a captain at another station for having what was described as a noose inside his locker. The Reverend James Nash of Saint Paul Baptist Church in Houston's Sunnyside neighborhood called for investigators to do their job.

"I know this is difficult for some people to understand, because we have factions out there that want to see conflict in this city. But anyone can see the quick response that's made to try to rectify this situation."

About a dozen firefighters are assigned to Station-54, which handles aircraft emergencies at Bush airport.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.


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